Raise up your coffee mug for Adam LaRoche.
The veteran first baseman and DH announced Tuesday morning in White Sox camp that he is prepared to retire from baseball and leave $13 million on the table because of what he called “personal reasons.” His teammates asked him to sleep on the decision, and LaRoche will oblige that request, but it doesn’t sound like the 36-year-old is going to change his mind.
“It’s not a knee-jerk reaction for him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura told CSNChicago.com on Tuesday afternoon. “He thinks things out well in advance, and you give him time to be able to do that. I wish we could still give him time to be able to do that. Any time you’re trying to talk to a guy in that situation, you want to make sure he’s thought it all the way through. You give him as much time as he needs to be able to do it. He thinks things out.”
LaRoche posted a disappointing .207/.293/.340 batting line with just 12 home runs and 44 RBI in 127 games last season for the White Sox, striking out 133 times in 429 at-bats. It was the first year of a two-year, $25 million free agent deal. He struggled with patellar tendinitis in 2015 and has been hampered by back spasms this spring. LaRoche wouldn’t get into specifics with the media, but health is almost certainly playing a factor in his sudden decision to call it quits.
Assuming this is it -- and that seems like a safe assumption -- LaRoche will finish up with 1,452 career hits, 255 career home runs, and 882 career RBI. He played for the Braves, Pirates, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Nationals, and of course White Sox, managing a respectable .798 OPS (111 OPS+) during a major league career that spanned 12 years.
There were concerns about where Avisail Garcia would find playing time when the White Sox signed free agent outfielder Austin Jackson last week to a one-year, $5 million deal, but we probably have our answer now. Garcia will take over as Chicago’s primary designated hitter, the role LaRoche filled last year. Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera also figure to see some starts there.
For player projections, mock drafts, strategy articles, hundreds of individual profiles, and much more, purchase the 2016 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide today. And keep it locked on the constantly-updated MLB player news page all spring for reports out of camps in Arizona and Florida.
Phillies Remain Undecided At Closer
There is an aggressive organizational rebuild going on in Philadelphia, if you haven’t noticed, and rebuilding teams don’t typically carry a bunch of bullpen talent. That makes it difficult to parse out potential fantasy production from this current group of Phillies relievers.
David Hernandez appeared to be the favorite for ninth-inning duties leading into spring training, but the former Diamondbacks setup man has been slowed by triceps tendinitis and he got lit up for three runs in one inning of work on the minor league side of Phillies camp on Tuesday. If he cannot show that he is both healthy and able to be effective before the end of spring training, it’s doubtful that manager Pete Mackanin will anoint him as the team’s closer. Hernandez held a 4.41 ERA in his final two years with Arizona. He hasn’t earned that kind of clout.
Which brings us back to an old familiar name: Andrew Bailey.
Bailey signed a minor league contract with the Phillies in mid-December and has done nothing but impress so far in camp. He struck out all three of the batters he faced in Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Rays, and he’s now allowed just one hit over four scoreless innings this spring. It’s the smallest of small sample sizes, but Mackanin and Co. won’t have the luxury of waiting this one out for something more substantive. Opening Day is less than three weeks away. A decision will be made before the Phillies head north.
Bailey registered a 2.07 ERA and 9.0 K/9 in 174 innings as the primary closer for the Athletics between 2009-2011, tallying 75 saves. He required surgery in April 2012 to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb and a host of other injuries have followed, but the 31-year-old right-hander from Haddonfield, New Jersey -- basically a suburb of Philadelphia -- can still claim a 2.74 career major league ERA.
This is a storyline we’ll be tracking closely as spring training winds down.
Red Sox Without E-Rod Until Late April?
Something else worth tracking closely is the status of young Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
He entered camp this spring with designs on a breakout 2016 campaign, but the 22-year-old left-hander suffered a patellar subluxation in his right knee while participating in a late-February fielding drill and he just resumed throwing off a mound this week. Red Sox manager John Farrell has stated that he wants his starters to pitch in six exhibition games before the opening of the regular season, and Rodriguez has already run out of time to accomplish that. Now it’s about how much of the regular season schedule he is going to miss. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal suspects that it will be most of April.
Rodriguez burst onto the scene for Boston in May 2015 and produced a 3.85 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 98/37 K/BB ratio over his first 121 2/3 major league innings. Roenis Elias, Henry Owens, and Steven Wright are the candidates to fill his rotation spot in the early going.
Quick Hits: Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Victor Martinez (hamstring) could be sidelined until Saturday … Edwin Encarnacion will be shut down for at least a week due to a minor oblique injury … Mariners closer Steve Cishek (biceps) is expected to throw an inning Thursday against the Athletics … David Wright (back) will make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday … Dee Gordon went 3-for-3 and swiped his first base of the spring Tuesday against the Mets … Jacob deGrom could miss the season-opening series against the Royals for the birth of his son … Dodgers starter Alex Wood (forearm) is set to return to exhibition action on Thursday … Jason Heyward went 2-for-4 with two doubles, one run scored, and three RBI in Tuesday's rout of the Padres … Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson (back) threw one inning in a minor league game on Tuesday … Brett Gardner (wrist) will make his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday … Rays utilityman Steve Pearce (calf) expects to return to Grapefruit League action on Thursday … Jerad Eickhoff (thumb) will make his Grapefruit League debut Thursday against the Rays … Devin Mesoraco (hip, groin) will make his Cactus League debut on Thursday … Rangers prospect Joey Gallo launched his third home run of the spring Tuesday versus the Indians … Braves closer candidate Jason Grilli (heel) is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut Thursday … Tyson Ross didn't make it out of the first inning in his start Tuesday against the Cubs … Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada (back) threw two innings in a minor league game on Tuesday … Ryan Zimmerman (foot) is slated to play first base on Wednesday … Astros backup catcher Max Stassi will miss approximately six weeks after undergoing surgery Monday to repair a hook of the hamate fracture of his left wrist … Anibal Sanchez (triceps, bronchitis) will throw in a simulated game against minor leaguers on Wednesday … Rockies utility infielder Daniel Descalso is expected to miss several weeks with a small fracture on the top of his left hand … Royals added camp invitee Dillon Gee to their 40-man roster.