LaRoche's decision tied to Hamilton

LaRoche's decision tied to Hamilton
December 13, 2012, 9:45 am
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It's been more than six weeks since the Giants won the World Series and Adam LaRoche became a free agent, more than six weeks of the Nationals saying how much they want LaRoche back and of LaRoche saying how much he wants to come back.

So why don't the two sides appear to be any closer to a new contract than they were at season's end? Because LaRoche, plain and simple, doesn't feel like he needs to make the decision quite yet, not until he's convinced every best offer has been presented to him.

And it's entirely possible the best offer has yet to be made ... by the Rangers.

All along, the Nationals' biggest competition for LaRoche has probably been Texas, the only other likely suitor who could offer the 33-year-old both a fair contract and a realistic opportunity to obtain a World Series ring.

The Rangers, though, have a much bigger fish to fry at the moment: Josh Hamilton, who likewise remains unsigned despite varying degrees of interest from a number of franchises.

The thinking is as follows: If Hamilton returns, Texas won't need (or have any money left over) to sign LaRoche. That would probably be the final hurdle toward the Nationals getting their first baseman back.

If, on the other hand, Hamilton signs elsewhere, the Rangers could be motivated to take some of the money they were holding for their center fielder and offer it to another left-handed power hitter. Which could leave the Nats on the outside looking in.

At the very least, LaRoche would probably give the Nationals a chance to match the Rangers' offer. But if it includes a guaranteed third year, don't expect Mike Rizzo to cave.

In the meantime, all the Nationals can do is sit and wait. The ball, essentially, is in Hamilton's court right now and LaRoche doesn't feel the need to make his decision until Hamilton makes his own.