Rizzo has been set thus far on offering LaRoche just a two-year deal, while LaRoche has been holding out in hopes of receiving an extra year.
LaRoche, while a key contributor to last season's playoff team, is not a guy that Rizzo should cater to. If Rizzo is unwilling to offer a third year, then he shouldn't.
The signing of outfielder Josh Hamilton will likely cause the market for LaRoche to heat up.With the Nationals' unwillingness to go beyond three years, you can be sure that there will be teams looking to pry him away from Washington.
The years and dollars will likely increase as a result. The Nationals already have a guy that can step in and play first base next season, and the money saved can be better allocated to address bullpen issues.
To put it simply, if LaRoche wants three years, let him find them somewhere else.
Should this happen, the Nationals are already set with Michael Morse at first base.
He's got the power to consistently hit 30 home runs, but health has been an issue for him lately.
Two seasons ago (his breakout year), Morse mashed 31 home runs and drove in 95. He also hit .303/.360/.550.
Another benefit to leaving Morse at first base next season is that he'll be a free agent at the end of the year.
Rizzo will likely allow him to walk, which would open the position for powerful prospect Tyler Moore.
In 156 at-bats last season, Moore hit 10 home runs and drove in 29. He has all the makings of an everyday player, and he may only need one more season of reserve duty to be ready.
Plus, should Morse get hurt again, he can step in and play in 2013.
With the Nationals going this route with their first base dilemma, they can use the money saved from not signing LaRoche to address their bullpen.
Tom Gorzelanny remains the lone lefty under contract at the moment, though that will likely change come spring training.
Mike Gonzalez is still out there. He compiled a 3.03 ERA in 47 games for the Nationals last season. Gonzalez represents a much cheaper option than some of the others available.
J.P. Howell is also a cheaper option, but he's one that Rizzo should jump on. Howell is interested in pitching in Washington, and the Nationals have a need for his services.
Even Daniel Schlereth could be an option, but Howell and Gonzalez seem like the more likely options at this point.
To summarize, no, it should not be a big deal if Rizzo has to let LaRoche go. Davey Johnson loves him, but the Nationals have the necessary replacements on hand should he leave.
The Nationals need to stand pat and not give that third year.