New year, same waiting game

The holidays are over, the calendar has turned and my headache has finally started to dissipate. Hello, 2013.

Hope everyone had an enjoyable new year celebration and hasn’t found the transition back to the real world to be too jarring.

We might have put 2012 in the rear-view mirror, but we still find ourselves asking the same question today that we asked for the final few months of last year: Will Adam LaRoche return to the Nationals?

LaRoche is still patiently waiting (very patiently, I might add) for a three-year offer to come his way from a contending team, and he has yet to receive one to this point. An avid hunter, LaRoche is used to camping out somewhere and biding his time in search of his target.

He’s not in any rush when trying to bag a 14-point buck. He won’t be in a rush when trying to secure his next contract.

Will LaRoche make a decision this week? Will he make one before 2013 turns into 2014?

The joke among reporters was that LaRoche would probably sign somewhere just when everyone would least expect it or appreciate it.

Christmas Eve. New Year’s Eve.

That’s how these things always seem to work. You’re with your family and friends enjoying a few hours away from baseball when the biggest stories happen to break. But the big days and nights have passed without any updates, and so the Nationals continue to wait.

In a perfect world, LaRoche would come to the Nats with a decision sometime in the next few days. That way, general manager Mike Rizzo could go forward with the rest of his offseason plans knowing who will be his first baseman for the upcoming season.

If LaRoche signs elsewhere, Michael Morse would pack up his first baseman’s mitts and get them ready for spring training. If LaRoche returns to the Nats, Morse can be danged as trade bait before other teams finalize their rosters for next season.

But even if LaRoche doesn’t accept the Nationals’ offer until early February, the Nats could be in decent shape when it comes to a Morse trade. They could carry both LaRoche and Morse into spring training and wait for a team to get desperate.

Teams lacking some middle-of-the-order pop could realize they need to make something happen once they open up camp. Injuries also are a factor and could create a market for Morse if a power hitter goes down.

Rizzo loses some leverage the closer we get to opening day when it comes to a potential Morse trade, as the market for his 30-year-old slugger continues to decrease. But that could change in spring training. It just takes one team to have a major need for a power hitter in order for the Nationals to get what they want in a deal.

Everything obviously hinges on LaRoche, however. And since he seems keen on waiting this out, we’ll all continue to do the same.

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