NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals are holding firm on their offer to Adam LaRoche, with general manager Mike Rizzo insisting he won't add a third year to the deal but still confident he can come to agreement with the free agent first baseman.
"Our deal is where it's at, and I think we're going to stay there," Rizzo said during his daily briefing at the Winter Meetings. "We made that clear to him, that a two-year deal for Adam LaRoche works for us. I feel we've been pretty clear about that."
LaRoche has been seeking a three-year contract, one he figures will be his last as a professional ballplayer. The 33-year-old, coming off a career season in which he won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards at his position, was hoping a market would develop for him that would put some pressure on the Nationals to up their offer.
But that market has yet to develop, and it doesn't appear it will. The Red Sox locked up first base for the next three years after signing Mike Napoli. The Rangers and Orioles don't appear to have serious interest. And the Mariners, while perhaps willing to offer a three-year contract, can't offer LaRoche the same opportunity to contend for a World Series title that the Nationals can.
Rizzo met with LaRoche's agent, Mike Milchin, upon arriving in Nashville and spoke with him again by phone Monday night. The two hadn't communicated again as of late Tuesday afternoon.
"I still feel optimistic that we can get him signed," Rizzo said. "He wants to be here. We want him. So I'm optimistic. ... I'm not going to put a timeframe on it. We've got our offer on the table, and we're not going to pressure Adam into doing anything sooner than he's ready to do it."
Rizzo may not be applying much pressure on LaRoche, but Davey Johnson certainly is. The veteran manager, who has declared 2013 his final season in uniform, made another impassioned plea today for the first baseman to sign a deal.
"Adam LaRoche is going to come back," Johnson said. "I mean, if I have to go to Kansas and take him and all his cattle to Florida, I will."