The Sox should absolutely not sign Adam LaRoche.
Nothing wrong with LaRoche. He is a good player, but with the new compensation, the cost is just too high.
And really, it is not even about the draft pick. The real issue is the slot money associated with the pick. The way I understand it, and I might be wrong, the Sox lose any slot money with their associated pick, and therefore this handicaps their ability to pay overslot on their first round pick.
This is a realistic concern because the sox pick seventh overall this upcoming draft, and that is high enough that truly elite talents can fall that far. For example, say Mark Appel was available, which could happen as he fell to number 8 last year. The Sox might need a significant portion of both their first round money and second round money to sign him. I have no idea what the actual associated values are, but let us say the 7 pick carries a $5mil slot and the sox second round pick (around 44) carries a $1.5mill slot. The Sox would have potentially $6.5mill to spend on the first rounder. Without the second pick, their $5mill might not be enough to retain a player like Appel. They could potentially enhance the number a little higher with third round money, etc, but the values probably get incrementally smaller, so it is doubtful it gets that much better. The Sox are slightly further handicapped in this regard because they have no sandwich picks with corresponding slot money. And giving a qualifying offer to Cody Ross would not have changed this, as he would definitely have accepted it. If Ross and his agent valued him at about $25mill over 3 years, no way they turn down half that money over one third of that time. He could easily get a 2 year $12mill offer after 2013 and break even. That is Jonny Gomes money.
The sox are also slightly helped with their draft position because the Cleveland drafts in front of them, and signed Nick Swisher, meaning Cleveland has no second round pick and slot money. Cleveland also did not gain a sandwich pick and any additional slot money to compensate. Had I understood how this worked better, I would not have suggested Swisher as a solid outfield signing. I see why the Sox passed on him. I also see why they opted for Dempster as a smarter option than Lohse.
And they should do the same with LaRoche. Even taking the third year of Napoli at full price would be preferable, especially since the DH position will be available in 2015 anyway…