Of all the moves the Arizona Diamondbacks have made this offseason, none have made as much sense as the one that came down today with the announcement of the signing of Adam LaRoche to a one-year contract with a mutual option for a second season.
The Diamondbacks have been desperate for a real first baseman for quite some time now and LaRoche certainly fits the bill. He is very good defensively and can hit for power.
Last season LaRoche hit 25 home runs and drove in 83 runs while hitting .277 for Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Boston.
That Arizona got LaRoche for $4 million this season is an absolute steal, but that is what happens when you are smart and wait out some of the players in free agency.
Those that are not signed in December start to get antsy and the price tag usually comes down when the calendar year rolls over and spring training is within sight.
LaRoche addresses a major need for the D-backs, who used a mind boggling eight different players at first base last year – Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Allen, Rusty Ryal, Chad Tracy, Chris Snyder, Jason Whitesell and Tony Clark – all without much success.
LaRoche’s addition will help not only Reynolds, Stephen Drew and newly acquired Kelly Johnson in the infield, but his defense will save the starting pitchers and relievers runs.
While Jackson is a plus offensively he was clearly not suited to play first base and his defense over the last few years cost the D-backs several games. It is imperative in this day and age of baseball to have a good defensive first baseman. Look at the New York Yankees with Mark Teixera last season compared to Jason Giambi.
While there is no official count of how many games Teixera saved the Yankees with his glove it is somewhere between 7-10 and that’s just with defense. That LaRoche has pop in his bat and hits for a decent average is a major plus. He is left-handed which gives the D-backs tremendous lefty-righty balance and will be a middle of the lineup hitter, hitting somewhere between cleanup and sixth in the order.
The addition of LaRoche moves Jackson to the outfield and will all in likelihood spell the end for outfielder Eric Byrnes, who you can expect the D-backs to release with one year left on his contract because there just isn’t a spot in the outfield for him.
All in all this was a good day for the Diamondbacks in addressing a major need at a reasonable cost.