The Nationals’ season came to a quick end in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
But if you look back at the past couple of seasons, there is no way this team would have had a chance to be one strike away from the National League Championship Series without the bat and glove of Adam LaRoche at first base.
LaRoche put up career numbers in 2012, smacking 33 homers and 100 RBIs in helping the Nationals to 98 regular season wins and a the National League East title.
It was a special season for LaRoche, as well, because he was able to stay healthy after missing more than 100 games in 2011 because of shoulder surgery.
So one of the major offseason questions is whether LaRoche be back. The Nats and LaRoche have a $10 million mutual option for 2013, or the team can buy him out for $1 million.
General manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals have high regard for LaRoche.
“He’s a guy we really like,” Rizzo said. “He fits in great, in the lineup and in the clubhouse. So we’ve been talking and we’re going to continue to talk.”
LaRoche’s teammates definitely want him back.
“Yeah, he was huge,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “Adam was finally healthy. When Adam is healthy, this is the kind of year he usually produces. Obviously, he is great player but a better teammate and a great leader in here. I think all of us would love to have Adam back.”
“He is our heart and soul,” said infielder Chad Tracy. “He is a leader in the clubhouse. His numbers speak for themselves on the field. He is tremendous defensively. The guy is a stud. It would be a shame to not have him back next year.”
The youngest National, 19-year old Bryce Harper, appreciates LaRoche, too.
“He was freaking unbelievable. Thirty homers, 100 RBIs? Sure, why not. He has been unbelievable for us all year. I love him. He is a buck commander, so that is cool.”
Shortstop Ian Desmond said LaRoche was always in the middle of things and a lot of times got the offense ignited with one of his homers. LaRoche smacked two homers in the NLDS.
“He is catalyst in here,” Desmond said. “J-Dub (Jayson Werth) does a lot. Zimm (Zimmerman) does a lot, all the other guys. Roachey is that steady head. He is really, really, really respected in here. We would definitely miss him.”
You would expect that Rizzo would move quickly picking up the LaRoche option, or talking to the 32-year old about staying with the Nationals even longer.