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Adam LaRoche signed a two-year, $24 million contract yesterday.
Q: What made you decide to re-sign with the Nationals and what kind of offers did you get from other teams?
"I don't mind you asking, but as far as the other teams go, I'm going to keep this out of the discussion. You guys probably have an idea who some of them are, but the offers from other teams and some of the teams that were involved, I'm going to stay away from. I can say that the reason it took as long as it did -- and there are a couple of them -- but one of the big ones was I fighting to do what I could to get back to Washington. I made that very clear at the end of the season that this is where I wanted to be. And honestly as far as my personal preference throughout the offseason, that never changed.
"Now, there were points in the offseason where I thought that it may not happen, it may not be realistic to end up back in Washington. So obviously we had to look down other roads. But it never changed the fact that it was my No. 1 choice. But it's done and I'm back in D.C. and it couldn't have worked out any better."
Q: Besides the chance to win, what were the other reasons you wanted to come back?
"It's a comfort thing, any time you play somewhere a couple years and are familiar with it. My kids enjoy it. I like playing there. I like seeing the change in that city from when I played against the Nationals for years with zero excitement, not a lot of hope, not a ton of success on that club. Now to see the transformation of that whole city, and I think it's only going to get better.
"Playing for Davey. I love playing for Davey. I love the fact that clubhouse is one big family. There's not a lot of separation in there over the course of a season, which is tough to do. When you get guys together for that long, to see that kind of camaraderie ... it's basically like one big family in there. It's special, and you don't get that everywhere you play."
Q: Were you surprised that with the new CBA, the market for you wasn't more, especially coming off a career year? Do you think the qualifying offer affected you?
"I think it did. That's coming from other people a lot smarter than I am who just kind of explained it to me. I think it's probably affected a couple of other players in addition to me. There's some guys still out there who are pretty good ballplayers looking for jobs. I don't know how that's going to play out in the future. I know it definitely hindered some teams from going after guys they'd have normally gone after. Where money may not be a big issue with that team. They have plenty of money as far as payroll goes. But they don't want to give up that [compensatory draft] pick. I think there were probably two or three, maybe four teams that was in effect that were interested in me but just didn't want to give up that pick. But again, looking back, it may have been the best thing to end up getting back here. I can't say right now that it was a bad thing. I do know that it affected the amount of teams that were interested. That's all I can say."
Q: How bad do you feel for Michael Morse, who is now either going to be on the bench or traded?
"Yeah, I don't think you're going to see Mikey on the bench. Mike's a guy that you can get in the middle of a lineup in the big leagues. He's proven that. I don't know what's going to happen there. Selfishly, I would love to have him on our team and in that lineup. Of course, we've got a little bit of a logjam out there, so something's going to have to happen. Again, he's going to be playing for somebody. Whether it's us, whether we make a move and get prospects or whatever they're going after, this isn't in any way a career-ender for Michael. I think he's just getting started. He's going to tear it up with someone. Hopefully it's with us. But I don't make that decision and I'm glad that I'm not, because it's going to be a tough one for them."
Q: You wanted a three-year contract. At what point did you realize you were going to have to come to some kind of compromise?
"Probably a week ago. I was beginning to realize they were dead-set on the two years. I had a couple of conversations with Riz. We sat down in Florida, and he explained the situation and was very clear about it. And he stuck with it. In the end, it wasn't necessarily the third year. We kind of conceded that. It was probably more some of the smaller things, working out the buyout or whether we could do a no-trade clause or something like that. That no-trade clause was a hang-up for a little while. On my end, I don't want to be traded. I want to be there, because I think you all know the direction the organization is going is phenomenal. I think they could be really solid for a long time, so I don't want to be traded. But apparently that's a Nationals policy where I think they did it for Jayson [Werth] but after that they're going to shut that down and not give any more no-trade provisions. So it's something to work through and it took a little longer than I would've liked."
Q: So they did not grant you a no-trade clause?
"No. And that's what I was going for, a no-trade. And Riz didn't want to do it. He explained why. They're going to try to stay away from that going on. If we do our job on the field and do what we're capable of doing, I don't think it's going to be an issue anyway."
Q: How important was the third-year option for you?
"I don't know when it came about. You'd have to ask Riz about that, because a lot of what I did was through my agent at different time frames over the winter. And I don't know that Rizz was against it from the beginning. He could have been. But I think what it does is it gets us closer to the AAV [average annual value] that we were looking for with that buyout. So if they decide not to pick up that option or whatever, then there's a buyout attached to that."
Q: Have you talked to any teammates, and what kind of reaction have you gotten?
"Yeah, it's been great. I've heard from probably half of them. Guys who were just waiting around seeing what was going to happen. The feedback has been phenomenal on the other side of it, that everybody loves Michael [Morse]. So it's kind of ... you're happy and sad at the same time. You're getting a guy back and you're also losing a guy. So there's mixed emotions in there. But overall, I think we're all pretty fired up about the squad we've got."
Q: Anything you have to do at your age to better keep yourself in shape?
"There's a little bit. I was actually laughing the other day. I've got my trainer in here. I've got a barn out at the ranch, we've got a weight room and a cage. And I told him back in the day, I didn't have to go through any of this. I usually spent my offseason trying to put on as much weight as possible because I lose so much during the season. But now, I can't go have a large pizza every night and rely on being that weight. So yeah, there's more preparation, probably starting a month earlier than I used to. I've kind of learned with age there are some more things I have to do. And obviously during the season, there's a lot more that goes into getting ready for a game now than there was seven or eight years ago. You could roll out of bed and be pretty loose. As far as that, I feel great. I think I've put on about 12-15 pounds. Everything's good so far."
Q: What did Davey Johnson's recruitment efforts mean to you?
"It was pretty funny. I think you guys heard a lot of it. Davey was pretty public about me coming back. He sent some hilarious text messages over the season. Whether it was to come out and be my right-hand man on the ranch or if he could offer up one of his paychecks, whatever he could do. I think he was joking about a lot of it. But on my end, that's not what swayed me. Just playing for him last year and knowing the kind of guy he is and how much he cares about his club, the way he runs the club and manages the game. I've had a lot of managers, and he's right up there at the top. Aside from how good this team is going to be, one of the things was coming back for what he said was going to be his last year."
Q: What do you think of the other offseason moves, adding Denard Span and Dan Haren?
"I think the Haren move -- knowing Dan, I played with him -- he's a warrior. But I could say the same thing about Edwin last year. Dan's a phenomenal pitcher. If you look at his career, he's proven that and he's going to be a force for us. I know he's been on some teams in the past where he was pretty much one of two really good pitchers. Now he's stepping in here where we've got five or six guys who could be No. 1 or 2 for several organizations. And you look at the leadoff spot, I think that was a big topic last year. I think we all knew that was a small piece that was missing out of our lineup and we had to put Jayson in there. Jayson is a run producer. Yeah, he gets on base a lot. But I think all of us would like to see him more in a position to drive in runs as well as score runs. So moving him out of the 1-hole, I think you'll see more of that out of him."
Q: Can this team be better next year?
"There's absolutely no way to tell. There's no way to tell what's going to happen. You look at last year, as good as we played and as many games as we won, we still had a lot of injuries early on. We lost Stras late. Bryce was just getting his feet wet. Desi and Espi are coming into their own. So there's no telling. You can look on paper and we can make all the predictions, but time will tell."