The White Sox had reportedly "checked in" on LaRoche, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported four days ago. But it was the Miami Marlins that supposedly shown "aggressive interest" in LaRoche, Jayson Stark of ESPN reported, and they even offered him a two-year, $20 million deal, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported. But it must have been the extra $5 million that drove him away from Miami.
The 35-year-old LaRoche is an eleven-year MLB veteran and recently spent the last four seasons with the Washington Nationals. They paid him $15 million over the first two seasons of his contract and $22 million over the past two seasons. The signing of LaRoche was just one of the first deals the Nationals made to surround their young talent and to get them into contention.
The Nationals had filled their infield to the brim at the end of last season, seemingly forcing Ryan Zimmerman out of a job. With a $2 million buyout looming of LaRoche, they ultimately decided to let him go elsewhere and will likely stick Zimmerman at first, where he won't be as injury prone.
LaRoche is a former 29th round pick in the 2000 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves and has had a very successful career as a power hitting first baseman. LaRoche has a career .264/.340/.472 line, while averaging 27 homers and 92 runs batted in over every 162 games he played. LaRoche's 114 career OPS+ and 113 career wRC+ suggest that he's been either 14 percent or 13 percent better than the average major league hitter, depending on what metric is used.
LaRoche hit .259/.362/.455 with 26 homers and 92 runs batted in over 586 plate appearances this past season. He was a 1.6 fWAR player in 2014, mostly due to his offense, as he posted a -5.2 UZR/150 in 2014. Defensive runs saved believe that LaRoche was an average first baseman, as he saved zero runs last year.
LaRoche will add to a White Sox lineup that already includes the likes of first baseman Jose Abreu. Either LaRoche or Abreu could slide into the designated hitter slot, while that is yet to be known. Abreu posted a better UZR/150 last season as compared to LaRoche, but was not viewed as favorably in the eyes of defensive runs saved. Either way, Chicago will get two power hitters in their lineup.