A new twist in the LaRoche talks (plus an international signing)

Yesterday, I wrote about the possible ripple effects of Josh Hamilton leaving the Rangers, and specifically how that could impact Adam LaRoche’s chances of re-signing with the Nationals.

Well, it’s happened. Hamilton has left the Rangers.

Hamilton has agreed to a whopping five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels, according to reports.

This gives the Angels one of the most lethal offensive trios in recent memory, with Hamilton joining Albert Pujols and Mike Trout near the top of the batting order.

Good luck, American League West pitchers.

It also leaves the Rangers on the short end of an offseason pursuit yet again, and now, they might turn to LaRoche to replace some of the left-handed pop that Hamilton provided.

The Rangers had been looking for a first baseman and reportedly were at least somewhat interested in LaRoche. Don’t be surprised if that interest increases now that Hamilton is gone, perhaps to the point that the Rangers offer LaRoche the three-year deal he’s been seeking.

Meanwhile, a club source confirms that the Nationals have signed 16-year-old Dominican third base prospect Neivy Pilier for a $225,000 bonus.

Pilier’s signing was first reported by Baseball America’s Ben Badler, who says the 6-foot-1, 180-lb. teenager has “a quick bat with lift and occasional power in his right-handed swing, though he’s at his best when he stays with a line-drive approach and uses the middle of the field.”

It’s believed that this signing represents the largest amount the Nationals have given to an international prospect since the Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez/Carlos Alvarez scandal in 2006.

In case you need a refresher on that one, the Nats forked over $1.4 million to Gonzalez, who was actually using a false name and age.

It turned out his real name was Carlos Alvarez and he was actually four years older than he claimed. Now 27, Alvarez spent last season between short-season Single-A Auburn and low-A Hagerstown.

Here’s a video of Pilier taking a few swings, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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