Not surprisingly, when the offseason started, LaRoche and Johnson had completely different expectations of their next contract should look like. LaRoche was in the market (reportedly) for a 3 year/$31.5 million dollar deal while Johnson was simply looking for a two year deal even though many teams highly regard him.
However, late last night, the Yankees inched closer to signing Johnson to a one year deal worth $5.5 million dollars. This deal would seem to suggest that even though Johnson had demand for his services, that teams were reluctant to give him more than a one year deal, presumably because of his injury history. There is always the chance that Johnson took less to play for the Yankees, but one has to wonder what Johnson's contract will do to LaRoche's contractual expectations.
On one hand, LaRoche seems to be in a decent position on the free agent market:
- The Giants are known to be very interested in his services
- The Mariners need a first baseman,
- The Braves should be looking to re-sign LaRoche as well.
But on the other hand, there are so many options out there that LaRoche needs to be careful not to price himself too high.
- If the Giants are not satisfied with what LaRoche is asking for, then they can move on and make a strong run at Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, or Dan Uggla.
- If the Mariners aren't willing to give LaRoche the money he is looking for, then they could simply re-sign Russell Branyan to play first base
- If the Braves cannot afford LaRoche, then they can opt for a low cost signing (Huff, Delgado, Blalock, Glaus), play Martin Prado at first, or even give Mitch Jones a chance!
Nick Johnson's deal should signal to LaRoche that he needs to expect less, hope for more, and if he can, sign quickly. With so many options out there, it's only a matter of time before money becomes scarce and the number of teams looking to sign first basemen starts to dwindle.