After spending the last four seasons with the Washington Nationals, it appears Adam LaRoche will be in a different uniform come Opening Day 2015. Thanks to Ryan Zimmerman's throwing issues and the further development of talented third baseman Anthony Rendon, the Nationals were left with three players for two positions (first and third base) last season. That won't be an issue in 2015, however, as the Nats declined the option on LaRoche's contract and will not bring him back.
From 2011-14, LaRoche was a key cog in the middle of the lineup for a Nationals club that made the playoffs twice during that span. The veteran slugger, who played with the Braves, Pirates, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks before his stint in D.C., had disappointing years in 2011 and 2013 but put up two of his best years during the Nationals' playoff runs. He hit .271/.343/.510 with a career high 33 home runs in 2012 and .259/.362/.455 with 26 home runs in 2014, while playing strong defense at first base. While a rebound to full health for the franchise cornerstone Zimmerman could serve to dampen the impact of LaRoche's departure, the Nats still will likely miss the lefty power bat he provided in the middle of the lineup.
One team that won't miss LaRoche's presence in Washington, however, is the Mets. In 2014, LaRoche clobbered Mets pitching to the tune of a .321/.471/.755 line with 6 home runs, 5 doubles, 15 walks, and just 9 strikeouts in 68 plate appearances. The first baseman was a one-man wrecking crew and a big reason why the Mets were an abysmal 4-15 in the 19 games against their division foes. Furthermore, LaRoche seemingly has solved the mystery of hitting for power in the expanses of Citi Field, as he's a .268/.379/.554 career hitter in the Mets' ballpark with 13 home runs and 9 doubles. In the last 3 seasons alone, LaRoche has parked 9 baseballs over Citi Field's fences.
With LaRoche on the market and unlikely to rejoin the Nationals, where could he land in 2015? Thanks to the emergence of Lucas Duda in 2014, it certainly won't be in Queens. The only chance of the 35-year old first baseman landing back in the National League East appears to be in Miami, where the Marlins may be on the lookout for a first baseman to replace Garrett Jones. The thought of a lineup featuring sluggers Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and LaRoche seems downright scary when paired with their young pitching and the rest of their young hitters. Peter Gammons recently brought up the idea of the Red Sox dealing Mike Napoli and signing LaRoche to replace him but that might not make a whole lot of sense. The San Diego Padres, a team bereft of power, could also be a possible fit for him.
Wherever he lands, LaRoche appears to be taking his offseason in stride. An avid hunter, he recently killed a giant elk on a hunting trip to Wyoming. That's some grission if I've ever seen it.