Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
Baltimore is interested in LaRoche, but may look elsewhere because of the draft pick he will cost them.
The Baltimore Orioles are still in pursuit of a power bat to anchor their line-up, and have great interest in free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, but are hesitant to sign the lefty slugger because he will cost them their top pick in next year's draft if signed, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun:
The Orioles need a power hitter for the middle of their lineup. They have a vacant spot at first base...
LaRoche is by far the best fit available on the open market. And, according to multiple sources, the Orioles have legitimate interest in adding LaRoche. But the situation is complicated...
A LaRoche signing by the Orioles would mean the loss of their first-round draft pick in 2013 (the 24th pick overall) because the Nationals made the pending free agent a qualifying offer this fall.
The Orioles have no qualms about giving the 33-year-old LaRoche the three-year deal he is seeking -- something the Nationals have been reluctant to offer -- but the veteran's draft-affecting qualifying offer goes against the club's strategy of re-building through the draft.
The club does also have the 35th pick in the draft -- so dropping the 24th would not push them out of the early rounds completely -- but an 11-pick difference in the draft is potential massive. Even if the club does choose to go after LaRoche, the veteran could just use the Orioles as leverage to get a sweeter deal from the Nats, who currently have all the sway in their ongoing talks.