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Lee agrees to terms with O’s

Dec 31, 2010, 8:59 PM EDT

The Nationals’ first base dilemma may finally be nearing its resolution.

Derrek Lee has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Orioles, according to the Baltimore Sun. Lee, 35, must still pass a physical before the deal becomes official, but that’s expected to be a formality.

Which leaves Adam LaRoche as the lone first baseman of significance remaining on the free-agent market, and the Nationals as the lone remaining club looking to sign a significant first baseman. LaRoche, who hit .261 with 25 homers and 100 RBI for the Diamondbacks last season, has been seeking a three-year contract. The Nats, according to club sources, are willing to offer him a two-year deal.

LaRoche, 31, must now decide whether to accept the Nationals’ offer or hold out in hopes another team needs help at first base and comes calling.

  1. Farid Rushdi - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    I think that my choosing first, the Orioles made the Nationals a better team.Lee might hit .280-30-100 (meaning his off-year was due to his thumb) or he might hit .250-20-75 (which means his off-year was due to age).At 35, I think it's the latter and not the former.With LaRoche, you wind him up and he gives you .265-25-90 plus solid defense.If no one else offers him three-years, then he has to sign with Washington. However, I'd give him a drop-dead date to sign. The team just can't wait forever for him to make up his mind.I think the Birds did us a favor.

  2. SonnyG10 - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    Now things should get interesting.

  3. Knoxville Nat - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    Stay with the 2 year offer. But get it dunn.

  4. Anonymous - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:24 PM

    This signing is great news for National fans. We need a left handed power bat. I would take Laroche over Lee and Pena.

  5. Anonymous - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Give him three years. The Nats can always trade him later. Someone will need help sooner or later. He is a proven commodity. He helps us as long as we need him. And he helps us when we don't need him any longer and we trade him for whatever.fpcsteve

  6. Natbiscuit - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:27 PM

    Laroche is the better fielder, but strikes out too much. A two year deal is tradeable in 2012, but a three year deal would be harder to move.

  7. phil dunn - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    Lee had a hand injury this past season which negatively impacted his performance and his power. He's clearly a better hitter than Laroche, who has been plagued by long early seaon slumps throughout his career.

  8. Anonymous - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    I'd rather gamble on a Mike Morse/Nick Johnson platoon than give big bucks to Laroche. Spend the money on a decent starting pitcher.

  9. Anonymous - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    No to Nick Johnson. He will spend half (or more!) of the season on the DL.

  10. DepotMaster - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    Sad. Just sad. Our best move would have been a 1 year contract and more choices next year. Lee has been a better hitter by far during his career. And a one year contract would have gotten us potential for choices like Fielder, Gonzalez, Pujols in 2012 (or Lee!). .265 is a joke for a 4-spot hitter.At this point I'd rather they go after Jim Thome and if needed platoon him with Michael Morse. Not understanding why they couldn't pull the trigger for an extra 1/2 million and get the better guy.Has anyone said why Lee chose Baltimore?

  11. Anonymous - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:40 PM

    What decent starting pitcher?

  12. raymitten - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:51 PM

    I would have preferred Lee to Laroche, and Dunn to either one. But now there is one decent option left. If the Nats go into the season with Cssey Kotchman, Nick Johnson, Russell Branyan or Mike Morse as a starting first baseman, how can they possibly expect anyone to take them seriously? Get Laroche. Whatever it takes.

  13. SonnyG10 - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Sunderland - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    Seems to me this is exactly what Rizzo wanted. He didn't much care which one he got, but whichever one it is, when he's the last one out there, the player has no leverage and the team does.So, he gets to sign LaRoche to a two year deal, since by now LaRoche and agent knows there is no one else out there willing to do so.I also like LaRoche over Lee, partly just because LaRoche, while he has less upside, he also has less downside. And I'm very glad it's not a one year deal, because there is zero chance in a fully competitive market that we will win a bidding war for Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Albert.Gonzalez will extend with Boston. They didn't give up prospects to just have him for one year. They agreed to parameters of an extension before the trade was executed.Prince weighs 270 Lbs and every NL team will see him as more of a risk than every AL team. his best long term offers will come from AL clubs.Pujols will stay a Cardinal or St Louis will burn.This is the right move.

  15. SonnyG10 - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    I read somewhere that neither Lee nor LaRoche wanted to come to the Nationals so an extra half million might not have been enough to get Lee.

  16. Anonymous - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:00 PM

    If Nick goes down, then we still have Morse, who hits right handed pitching nearly as well as left. That's a win win. Morse could turn out to be a real jewel but we will never know if he rides the bench.

  17. Grandstander - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    If I know Mike Rizzo, I think Casey Kotchman just got offered 1 year for $3 million.

  18. Farid Rushdi - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    LaRoche said in December he'd come to DC if the numbers were right. I mean, he just lived through the horror of being a Diamondback, so being a National on an up & coming team is a plus.

  19. HHover - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    I'd have preferred D Lee, but LaRoche for 2 years seems like a fine deal to me. And I agree with Sunderland about next year's FA market–if you think we're getting Pujols you're crazy, and I think a long-term bet on Prince Fielder would be pretty crazy too. So if nothing else, LaRoche for 2 years helps the Nats avoid that temptation.

  20. JayB - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    I agree, we need the LH Bat who is not likely to get hurt or hit the age wall this year or next. If they do not sign Adam L to a 2 year deal then Rizzo has some explaining to do. It is time to lock in the roster and they can not afford to have so many misses……They blew the early signing of pitchers…and it is clear people still do not want to play here….so they need to over pay the right LH 1B….Dunn would have been my choice but Rizzo wants defense so he better be right about Adam L!

  21. SpotsyNats - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    For what is worth (werth?) here are the fielding comps (from mlb.com):Dunn: 153 games, 13 errors, 93 assists, .990 FPCTLee: 144 games, 7 errors, 116 assists, .995 FPCTLaRoche: 146 games, 11 errors, 122 assists, .991 FPCT

  22. Anonymous - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:12 PM

    What decent starting pitching? Well, it's pretty much gone although Pavano and Millwood are still out there and they eat innings. The starting pitching has not been improved despite Rizzo's pledge to do so. These starters will wear out the bullpen very quickly, just like they did last year & without Capps the bullpen is probably weaker.

  23. JayB - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:15 PM

    While I would have liked to keep Dunn…..those fielding comps are worthless as are the new fielding Zone ones….just watching the games shows you Dunn was a really bad 1Ber…..he let some many balls go right by him and be was so bad on one hop balls it was embarrassing for him… but those were not his errors….Zimm and Ian D got charged with most all those.

  24. Anonymous - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    No way Pujols, Fielder or Gonzalez would ever play here. It probably doesn't excite Laroche either.

  25. SpotsyNats - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    …and offensive comps: AB HR RBI K BB SLG OPSDunn 558 38 103 199 87 .538 .892Lee 547 19 80 134 74 .428 .774LaRoche 560 25 100 172 52 .468 .788

  26. Sunderland - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    JayB, agreed, fielding comps, worthless.Same for outfielders. Nyjer doesn't get an error when he throws to the wrong base and runners advance, or when a runner scoots to third knowing Nyjer does not have the arm to threaten him.And while I did post earlier that we would not get Pujols, Fielder or Gonzalez, I'm not agreeing they "would never play here". It's just that Pujols and Gonzalez are almost certain to re-sign with their respective teams, and Fielder, as the one top flight 1B FA next year, with open bidding among all AL and NL teams, will end up with AL offers that top NL offers.

  27. Jeeves - Dec 31, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    I posted on Nats Journal Lee's stats in 2009 before he was injured. They were better than Dunn's in every area, except home runs. ( and there it was very close) Of course, the defense is incomparable. And the strikeouts.So I'm disappointed the Nats didn't get Lee. But, assuming they get LaRoche, the team, barring injury, is far better than they were in 2010.

  28. Jeeves - Dec 31, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    Mark, is there a way, I can log onto this site without going through, at least, three or four procedures. I select profile, post comment, post comment two more times, then enter my Code word, or whatever you call it. Other sites don't have this. I enjoy your column and will continue to read it–but posting is becoming too frustrating, not that anyone will be disappointed if I don't.

  29. rogieshan - Dec 31, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    Perhaps LaRoche is not really in the equation. Rizzo could very welll be working on a different trade/free-agent signing scenario. Maybe Boras is eagerly trying to sell him Beltre as a potential gold-glove 1st baseman.

  30. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2011 at 12:03 AM

    sign fielder next offseason and give him incentives for losing weight.perfect 4 hole hitter

  31. natsfan1a - Jan 1, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    Jeeves, I can't speak for others, but I'd miss you if you weren't on here. Cheers and Happy New Year! :-)(I've kinda gotten used to the Captchas, fwiw.)

  32. Drew8 - Jan 1, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    If they get LaRoche the defense is improved all over the field, from Werth in right to Bernadina in left, to the entire infield.LaRoche seems a fine complementary piece. The dynamic duo could hit 15 homers apiece if Espinosa's hand comes around. Add Harper in 2012 and the offense will mash.I can't hammer Rizzo over the glaring need for starters. It's clear he went to the wall for Greinke and the guy refused. I still think letting Peralta go was a mistake — though the fireballer in the Hammer deal sounds promising if he throws strikes.I hope we'll all celebrate more wins in 2011. Until then, be safe, everybody, and watch out for the knuckleheads. It's amateur night.

  33. natsfan1a - Jan 1, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    Sorry for the OT post, but in other news, evidently there's a new Svrluga in town, and she tweets.http://twitter.com/MollySvrluga

  34. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 1, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    Jeeves, either create a signin for yourself (you only need an email address, not a blog). In the alternative, just sign in as anonymous and include your handle in the post.Now, posting from a phone, like my droid, is more problematic, and I suspect it's the source of a lot of typos here, too.

  35. Jeeves - Jan 1, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    natsfan1a, you are just a nice person, and that just throws me off. Where's Brue and swammi when I need them. O.K. So I don't need them. In fact…. Sorry it's New Year's Eve and I'm not going there. Happy New Years from P.E.I. Canada, natsfan. And the Nats are going to be a lot better this year–much better, barring injury.

  36. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    Thanks Sec 3. I'm trying anonymous, see how it works.

  37. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    Jeeves here, monopolizing the site. Works much faster, Sec 3.

  38. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    Actually, 1a isn't just another nice person, but a multitalented fan with editorial superpowers.But don't let that throw you, Jeeves, and do keep the shiny side up.

  39. Anonymous8 - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    rogieshan said… Perhaps LaRoche is not really in the equation. Rizzo could very welll be working on a different trade/free-agent signing scenario. Maybe Boras is eagerly trying to sell him Beltre as a potential gold-glove 1st baseman. I am glad you said it because that is option #3 and Beltre is better than LaRoche or D. Lee. Option #4 could be a Nick Johnson/Michael Morse platoon and that wouldn't surprise me but only makes sense if it truly was a LH/RH platoon and Nick enters the season as healthy as Nick enters a season.Other note to the other Blogs that had their "inside info" from a Nats official on the 1st base signing this week, —-you need a better source—.HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE IN NATSTOWN!!!!

  40. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:18 AM

    This is a blessing. God bless Wild Turkey, and Peter Angelos. Put me in the camp that believes Derrek Lee has begun his descent into mediocrity.Plus, we need LaRoche for his left-handed bat behind Zim. I know the guy only hits .150 until Memorial Day (when we could be 25 games out of first, depending on how fast the Phillies break), but he's consistent with a good glove.And to all those people wishing for a return of Nick "60-day disabled list" Johnson, I have a request: please pour yourself a stiff New Year's eye-opener and consume. Repeat. And Repeat. Then think about what you're saying. Friends don't let friends sign Nick Johnson.

  41. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    sign fielder 2012 100 wins go all the way

  42. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    HNY, Anony8 and all.

  43. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:27 AM

    Thanks, Section 3, and same to you, Mark and all the Nats Insiders Insiders. Stay safe, and healthy.

  44. natsfan1a - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    Thanks, Jeeves and sec3. Jeeves, as an alternative to using "Anonymous," you could select "Name/URL" just above it. Type your name into the "Name" box that appears and leave the "URL" box empty. You'll still need to type the Captcha.Happy New Year to all!

  45. Andrew - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:59 AM

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/12/nats-offer-laroche-two-year-deal.htmlThere is still a few more hours + New Years Day to be considered a deal for this week.

  46. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2011 at 2:08 AM

    Hopefully another.smokescreen ; he be playing his cardsclose to the vest.

  47. SonnyG10 - Jan 1, 2011 at 2:38 AM

    Happy New Year everyone. I have really enjoyed reading all the different viewpoints on this blog. I hope Mark Z keeps it going. Everyone stay safe!

  48. Section 109 - Jan 1, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    This blog is great and the community is civil, well-informed, and funny most of the time. Thank you Mark and everyone else, and may you and the Nats have a great 2011.

  49. Doc - Jan 1, 2011 at 4:58 AM

    This Lee/LaRoche waiting game has highlighted one central issue—Rizzo has a problem making a decision. Same thing with Dunn, he didn't pull the trigger when he needed to.

  50. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - Jan 1, 2011 at 5:23 AM

    Happy Freaking New Year, ALL!First post of 2011!

  51. JaneB - Jan 1, 2011 at 5:38 AM

    What Sunshine said. Glad to know you all. Happy new year. As for " wait till next year!"… It's here. Pitchers and catchers closer than ever. So is a first base guy, even if his last name isn't Dunn. Xojb

  52. Sunderland - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    G'morning,and HNY to each and all.rogieshan, a very interesting thought about Boras working the Nats to get them to sign Beltre. I had never considered that.Doc, I think in this case, it has nothing to do with Rizzo being slow to come to a decision. I think he made his decision many weeks ago. He wanted LaRoche for a two year deal. And he's likely to get what he wants. I think he played this exactly as he should have (just as he did with Strasburg and Harper and Solis and Cole and Werth). I give him props for this.It's not like he could have forced LaRoche to sign a two year offer 5 weeks ago.

  53. natsfan1a - Jan 1, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Good morning and back at ya, Sunderland.Hope that the New Year brings with it some successful Nats transactions.

  54. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Sunderland couldn't agree more. People think Rizzo can just do and sign who he wants for what he wants. Doesn't work that way. Even with suspect pitching this is a much better team minus Dunn and plus Werth and hopefully LaRoche.

  55. N. Cognito - Jan 1, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Doc said… "This Lee/LaRoche waiting game has highlighted one central issue—Rizzo has a problem making a decision. Same thing with Dunn, he didn't pull the trigger when he needed to."Rizzo didn't want Dunn for what he got from the Sox. He made the offer he was willing to make. Dunn wanted (and got) more than Rizzo was ever going to offer.Good or bad decision, I'm glad Rizzo isn't letting emotion affect his decisions.

  56. Tim - Jan 1, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Doc, Everything I have read indicates that the Dunn issue (back in July) was not Rizzo's call but the Lerners. Rizzo wanted to trde Dunn, Kasten wanted to resign him for 3/42. Basically the strategy would have been, give Dunn an ultimatum, sign for 3/42 or we are trading you to Chicago. The Learners said no to the trade and thus, there was no leverage over Dunn.

  57. Anonymous - Jan 1, 2011 at 8:34 PM

    Tim, sounds like you have been reading Boswell. I'd say take whatever you read from him with a grain of salt. His story on the Dunn deal has been changing as time goes by. First it was that Dunn would surely have signed for three years back in July, but Rizzo never offered. Then it changed to Kasten could have signed Dunn, but Rizzo wanted to trade him. Then it changed to this sign-or-we'll-trade-you ultimatum. So what's next? Just stay tuned for Boswell's next chat, and he'll have another spin on it. The thing is, if you're reporting facts they generally stay the same over time. Boswell's not reporting facts. He may well be making stuff up.

  58. N. Cognito - Jan 1, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    Boswell and facts are two mutually exclusive concepts.His days as a decent sports writer are long behind him.

  59. BinM - Jan 2, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    @N.Cognito: Where I see the "problem", is that Rizzo is unwilling to go much above what he invisions as "fair value" for a contract length; Dunn @10M/year = great value, @36M/3years = fair value, @56M/4years = negative value. Same kind of story is playing out with LaRoche; Rizzo wants him for 2 years, and seems willing to pay around $6-8M/year, but LaRoche (& his agent) are looking for 3 years at $7-8M+. We'll see how it plays out…BTW, I wouldn't be suprised to see D. Lee struggle in the AL this year.

  60. N. Cognito - Jan 3, 2011 at 3:41 AM

    It's okay to overspend for the bona fide star players. If you overspend for the rest (incl Dunn), you're digging yourself a financial hole.

  61. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    "Fair value" for Dunn as an NL player would have been two years. Rizzo showed that he was willing to go above fair value by offering him three years.

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