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Adam LaRoche and the Nationals nearing two-year deal

Jan 3, 2011, 3:51 PM EDT

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As soon as Derrek Lee signed with Baltimore it seemed inevitable that fellow free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche would end up in Washington, and sure enough Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals and LaRoche are close to agreeing on a two-year contract.

LaRoche would replace Adam Dunn at first base, which is a big upgrade defensively and an even bigger downgrade offensively. LaRoche has hit .271 with an .827 OPS for his career, including .261 with 25 homers and a .788 OPS this season. Dunn has at least 38 homers in seven straight seasons, has never had an OPS below .800, and beats LaRoche’s career OPS by 75 points. And while Dunn’s detractors often point to his high strikeout totals, LaRoche whiffed 172 times in 2010.

Dunn signed with the White Sox for $56 million over four years, so LaRoche will come significantly cheaper, but the Nationals are still likely to overpay for a slightly above average first baseman and certainly haven’t gotten any better with the switch.

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