In a shocking surprise to many around baseball, 13-year veteran Adam LaRoche has decided to retire from the game citing personal reasons. LaRoche will be walking away from $13 Million in the final year of his two-year deal from the White Sox. While LaRoche had an extremely sub-par year by his standards last season (.207, 12, 44), the reason he has decided to step away had nothing to do with his decline in production.
The indication, now having been confirmed by White Sox President Ken Williams is that LaRoche’s decision stems from the fact that he could no longer bring his 14-year old son Drake into the clubhouse every day as he had previously done. Ken Williams’ statement on LaRoche and his son can be seen here as first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal today (https://www.facebook.com/kenrosenthalsports/posts/995697430495988).
The retirement is stunning for many a reasons, most notably because of the money he was set to make in 2016. Why someone would walk away from that sum of money because of something as trivial as no longer allowing children into the clubhouse is almost laughable. Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper has already come out applauding LaRoche on his decision saying that baseball’s a family game and family should come first. LaRoche’s decision will free up money for the White Sox, but with only a few weeks until opening day, it’ll be interesting to see what they do to fill the hole at 1B/DH.
The name that has been floated around most notably since the announcement has been former Rockies and Twins 1B Justin Morneau, who like LaRoche is a left-handed hitter who does very well against right-handed pitchers. The one knock of Morneau is what will his numbers be when taken out of Coors Field, which has been a haven for hitters since it was erected in 1995. Last year Morneau hit .397 at Coors in 23 games, away from the Rocky Mountains he hit just .242 in 26 games. In looking at the numbers from afar and comparing them to LaRoche, anything’s better than what he put up. LaRoche was getting paid based on past performance, and after switching from the NL to the AL, it was safe to assume his production would stay about the same. The drop in production was a big shock to the White Sox who brought him in thinking he’d be a security blanket behind Jose Abreu.
Now that LaRoche has walked away, the White Sox will have to reassess how to allocate the money saved from his retirement in a snap. Opening day is less than three weeks away with the White Sox starting their season against Sonny Gray and the Athletics in Oakland April 4th.