Nationals, LaRoche inching closer to deal

Nationals, LaRoche inching closer to deal

WASHINGTON -- There has been "a little bit of progress" made between free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche and the Nationals in the last week, according to a baseball source familiar with the negotiations.

LaRoche has been asking for a three-year contract, but it's not known if the Nats are willing to give him the three-year deal or a two-year deal with an option. General manager Mike Rizzo already has announced that he would give LaRoche no more than a two-year deal. The source also said the Nationals have not put a deadline on LaRoche as far as taking the deal off the table. Text messages to Rizzo and LaRoche were not returned.

LaRoche was Washington's MVP during the 2012 season, hitting .271 with 33 home runs and 100 RBIs. He also won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

"I think the biggest compliment I can pay to a teammate or a peer is ... he is the same guy every day when he walks on that field," infielder Mark DeRosa said about LaRoche. "Every day that door opens, you know what you are getting out of him.

"Adam is not pulling himself out against anybody. He is not ducking any pitcher in the league. He is batting fourth or fifth no matter where [manager] Davey Johnson put him. He is playing Gold Glove first base, and he is going to give me four or five chances to score in the game. On top of that, what a quality individual. What a family man. He is a guy who cares about his teammates. He is there for the young guys."

If the Nationals are unable to sign LaRoche, they could put Michael Morse or Tyler Moore at first base. There is still a possibility that Morse could be traded for pitching prospects.

By 2015, the Nats most likely would be ready to put Matthew Skole at first base. A third baseman by trade, Skole -- the organization's Minor League Player of the Year this past season and ranked by MLB.com as the team's No. 10 prospect -- played for Class A Hagerstown and Potomac and hit a combined .291 with 27 home runs and 104 RBIs. He most likely will start the 2013 season with Double-A Harrisburg.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Ttime. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.