LaRoche, Jackson both say they’d like to return

Adam LaRoche has a $10 million mutual option for next season, which he’s sure to decline in search of a more lucrative deal.

Edwin Jackson is set to become a free agent yet again.

The Nationals’ 2012 season just ended, and ended in stunning fashion. But general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff have been preparing for the offseason for about three or four weeks, and soon enough, they’ll need to decide how to proceed with both LaRoche and Jackson.

LaRoche says he hopes to be back with the Nationals next season. The 32-year-old first baseman’s agent has been talking with the Nationals recently, and LaRoche had a conversation with Rizzo today. There’s a mutual attraction, but the discussions between the two sides haven’t gone far yet.

“It’s just started,” said LaRoche, who hit a career-best 33 home runs this season and tied a career high with 100 RBIs. “It’s just kind of kicking the tires there and see, get a pulse on both sides. See where we’re at. I talked to Riz today, and I’ve made it clear that I want to do it if we come up with something that’s fair. Hopefully, we can do that.”

LaRoche signed a two-year, $16 million deal prior to last season. His first year in D.C. was one to forget because of a shoulder injury which ended his season after just 43 subpar games, but he had a monster season this year and thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this group.

“Had a blast. Best group of guys I’ve been around in nine years,” LaRoche said. “And I’d like to do this all over again next year and get ourselves back in this position. ... Got a pretty good core that they built it around, so hopeful to be a part of it.”

Asked about the chances of LaRoche returning, Rizzo spoke very favorably of his first baseman.

“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.”

Jackson says he hasn’t given much thought to the offseason yet, given how tonight went down.

“It’s definitely a group of guys that I gel with, and I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back,” he said. “We’ve had a fun year. Everyone’s gotten to know each other pretty well and we have fun out there battling with each other. ... If we work something out and I have a chance to come back and do it all over with these guys again, I’d definitely be happy about it. But as far as right now, deal with it when that time comes.”

After signing a one-year, $11 million deal with the Nats prior to this season, Jackson is looking for a multi-year contract this time around. He’s also looking for some stability; after all, this is a guy who has played on seven different teams in his 10 years in the majors.

Jackson declined to specify whether the Nats and his new representatives with the Legacy Agency (Jackson left agent Scott Boras during the season) have engaged in talks so far, but he seemed to have a realistic view of his chances of returning to D.C. next season.

“Like I always say going into free agency, you’re not really sure (of) their plans,” Jackson said. “They have great pitchers here. If I wasn’t here, they have five guys that they could run out and still feel comfortable with, dudes who are good pitchers. But as the offseason transpires, we’ll definitely see what happens.”

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