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What the Nationals signing LaRoche means for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  January 8, 2013 01:21 PM

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The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with first baseman Adam LaRoche on a two-year deal worth $24 million, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

What does this mean for the Red Sox?

It finally ends the largely unfounded talk that the Red Sox could move on from Mike Napoli and sign LaRoche. There was little chance the Red Sox were giving up a draft pick for LaRoche, even a second rounder. Plus getting LaRoche to leave Washington would have required more than $24 million.

With LaRoche signed, the best free agent first baseman is Casey Kotchman.

LaRoche coming off the market could nevertheless add some impetus to the Sox and Napoli finally agreeing to terms. The Sox would surely like a completely healthy player and Napoli surely would like his $39 million without any strings attached. But at this point, that may be the best they can do.

The Nationals have a good reason to trade Mike Morse now and the Sox could be a fit. He had been more of an outfielder (226 starts) than a first baseman (94 starts) in his career, but can play the position. Morse played only five innings at first last season after starting 82 games there in 2011.

Their tentative deal with Napoli showed the Red Sox are comfortable with just adequate defense at first base. Morse should be able to provide that.

Morse has hit .296/.345/.516 over the last three seasons with 64 home runs. Like Napoli, he is a righthanded hitter.

The Nationals don't have to trade Morse, so they won't give him away. Amanda Comack of the Washington Times (and once of the Cape Cod Times) reports the Nats need lefty relief help. The Sox have that in Franklin Morales, Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller.

The availability of Morse could serve to push things forward with Napoli a bit, too.

The Sox have come a long way down the road with Napoli, so it would be a surprise if they abandon him now. But Morse is a legitimate option.

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