1. He Had a Career Year at Age 33
A player who posts a career season at age 33 isn't likely to repeat his production. LaRoche had another great season at age 26, and in 2012 posted the best marks of his career since that season in the following categories:
-fWAR (highest of his career)
- SLG (highest of his career)
- HR (career high)
- wRC+2. He'd Likely Get a 3-year Deal
It would be silly to give a player who is on the wrong side of 30 a 3-year deal. 3. How Much of an Uprade is he over Chris Davis?
The Orioles would probably have to shell out about $12 million per year for LaRoche. He'd be replacing Chris Davis, who was worth 2.1 fWAR
last year, at 1B.
Let's say Davis puts up 2.5 fWAR next year and LaRoche doesn't put up his career average fWAR of 2.3
, but still puts up a very solid 3.0 fWAR (that's generous -- Bill James' projection gives him a 2.5 fWAR next year). This creates a difference of 0.5 fWAR, which, on the FA market, is worth $2.25 million. So, the Orioles would be paying $12 million for an upgrade that should be worth $2.25 million.
I understand that LaRoche would push Davis to DH, but that also pushes Wilson Betemit/someone else out of the lineup. As it stands, we'll probably see Davis at 1B with Betemit platooning at DH with a RHH. A Betemit platoon with a decent RHH, possibly Reimold or Pearce, should be able to put up at least a 1.5 fWAR -- probably more.
The positional adjustment from moving Davis from 1B to DH would be 0.5 fWAR (assuming a full season), so Davis now becomes a 2.0 fWAR player.
So, assuming LaRoche is a 0.5 fWAR upgrade over Davis at 1B and Davis is a 0.5 fWAR upgrade over whatever platoon/whoever is DH, we have a total of 1 fWAR. The Orioles would be paying ~$12 million for 1 fWAR, which should cost about $4.5 million. This is an overpay of $7.5 million.
It would be silly to overpay for LaRoche when, really, the upgrade he is actually providing would be minimal.4. Why Give up a Draft Pick?
If the Orioles sign LaRoche, they will be forced to give up their 2013 first round draft pick. For a team like the Orioles, it's important to have a steady flow of prospects and giving up a draft pick for LaRoche when the upgrade he'd prove is minimal simply does not make sense.5. Is LaRoche Really the Middle of the Order Bat the O's Need?
LaRoche is solid. He's not a bad hitter. But he's not the middle of the order bat the Orioles need. LaRoche's career OPS is .820, so why do some believe he is the kind of bat the Orioles are missing? Adam Jones
(.839), Nick Markakis
(.834), and Chris Davis (.827) all posted a higher OPS in 2012, and no one considers them true middle of the order bats. 6. It's Not the Right Time to Lock up a 1BDylan Bundy
and Kevin Gausman
are on their way to the big leagues. The Orioles should content in 2013 but they probably won't be great (I hope I'm wrong). It's pretty obvious...if Dan Duquette thought the Orioles really, really had a chance next season he would have done more than sign Nate McLouth (I'm fine with that). Let's see what the Orioles do this season and then decide on the 1B solution.