Washington Nationals: 5 Moves They Can Make to Replace Adam LaRoche

David A. Cucchiara@@cucch22Correspondent INovember 26, 2012

Washington Nationals: 5 Moves They Can Make to Replace Adam LaRoche

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    Adam LaRoche was the Washington Nationals’ big bat in 2012, but the Nats may have to start looking for his replacement if they’re unable to get a deal done.

    Contract negotiations with the Nationals’ slugger are going slowly, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

    LaRoche, who won the NL Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards, is looking for a three-year deal—something the Nationals likely won’t be interested in.

    So that brings up the question: how do the Nationals replace their veteran leader and arguably best offensive producer?

    LaRoche hit .271 with 100 RBI and a career-high 33 home runs last season.

    Here are five moves the Nationals’ should consider to replace Adam LaRoche.

Acquire James Loney

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    James Loney was acquired by the Red Sox in the mega deal with the Dodgers back in August, where he played out the rest of his one-year contract.

    Hardly part of the Red Sox long-term plan, Loney will likely not return to Boston in free agency this offseason.

    Loney is the youngest, most-notable first baseman in free agency this offseason and could be a perfect fit in Washington hitting behind guys like Morse, Zimmerman and Harper.

    In his six years in Los Angeles, Loney was a consistent .280 hitter who enjoyed three 80+ RBI seasons, making him one of the more underrated free agents in this class.

    The Nationals have one of the best front offices in baseball, and will definitely consider Loney if they can’t get a deal done with LaRoche.

Acquire Nick Swisher

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    Nick Swisher—a free agency name that is hard to ignore—is one of those unique players that will excel no matter where he lands.

    While he would make a great pickup for any team, money is the determining factor.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Swisher is searching for a contact in the area of seven-years/$126 million.

    The rumor seems a little far-fetched, but I could see Swisher taking home a four-year/$50 million deal without blinking an eye.

    So would a guy like Swisher be worth it for the Nationals to spend that kind of money?

    The answer is yes.

    His personality would be a catalyst to a Nationals team that was the eighth youngest in baseball last season, and he would be an instant leader and producer in their lineup.

    He’s also versatile and can play outfield or first, depending on what the Nationals want to do with Morse.

    The likelihood of Swisher ending up in Washington is slim, but if he does expect great things.

Call up Chris Marrero

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    Mike Rizzo has always been a fan of promoting from within, and top first base prospect Chris Marrero could be next in line.

    The 24-year-old Marrero is the Nationals’ top first base prospect and a former first round draft pick (15th overall).

    Marrero had a busy 2012 working his way up the minor league ladder. He played for five different teams and had a combined .272 average with three homers and 22 RBI.

    His numbers may not jump off the page initially, but Marrero excelled when staying on one team.

    In 2011 he hit .300 with 14 homers and 69 RBI for triple-A Syracuse, and hit .294 with 18 homers and 82 RBI in 2010 for double-A Harrisburg.

    Marrero is major league ready and the Nationals’ best option for promoting from within.

Move Michael Morse

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    The Nationals have four starter-worthy outfielders with only three spots available, a problem many other teams wish they had.

    Left fielder Michael Morse had a pretty solid season for the Nats, hitting .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI.

    25-year-old rookie Tyler Moore struggled after his call-up in late April, but turned it on in June hitting .425 for the month with four homers. The youngster has certainly earned a starting spot for next season.

    Moore made some outstanding plays in left and did not commit an error all season.

    Without the Nats having to make any external moves, Davey Johnson could keep Moore in left and move Morse to first base. Both bats would be preserved in the lineup and the Nats wouldn’t have to go out and purchase a big name bat.

    This move could prove risky as much of it relies on the bat of Tyler Moore, who’s only had 156 Major League at-bats.

B.J. Upton

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    If the Nationals can loosen up some salary, B.J. Upton may be a viable candidate to replace the bat of LaRoche.

    The bidding war for B.J. Upton is down to the Braves, Phillies and a mystery team, according to Doug Kyed of NESN.

    The Nationals have a good chance of being that “mystery team.”

    With a bat like Upton’s in the lineup, the Nationals would be well on their way to not only another playoff berth, but perhaps a World Series.

    To sign Upton, the Nationals would likely move Morse to clear some salary and put Tyler Moore at first base.

    Moore played an excellent first base in the seven games he started for the Nationals last season.

    The outfield of Harper, Upton and Werth would without a doubt be the most dangerous in baseball, putting them in position to make a deeper playoff run.