Was Adam LaRoche the White Sox worst off-season pick-up?
By Erik Brown
After looking at the best off-season move for the Chicago White Sox on Friday, today I will determine what was the worst move the front office made. This one was a no doubter either. Adam LaRoche entered the year with such promise that he would be the left-handed power bat the White Sox have been searching for long before striking out with Adam Dunn in December of 2010 (pun intended). Instead he turned into a Dunn clone: former 1st baseman for the Washington Nationals, high strikeout/walk/home run totals, a love of beards and hunting, and most importantly, a disappointment on the Southside. LaRoche has lost his starting job as the White Sox designated hitter when the calendar turned to September, but if you ask him, he was surprised it took that long for manager Robin Ventura to remove the struggling slugger from the lineup. It is unusual to hear a player tell a coach he was surprised he was playing him as opposed to benching him, but LaRoche recognized his game was not up to par this season and I applaud his honesty.
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The two-year deal signed by the long time veteran seemed like a good idea at the time, having been a steady producer for Washington and four other teams over ten years in the big leagues. The money was high but it was not ludicrous given today’s market ($25 million over two years). Combined with the moves made by the White Sox as the winter progressed, he seemed like a complimentary, yet integral, part of the inevitable successes for the 2015 Pale Hose. Since he had only played six games with the Boston Red Sox in 2009, there was some concern over his transition to the DH role; but having been a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012 there was the flexibility to play him at first base in order to give reigning American League Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu a day off in the field.
While this season cannot be placed squarely on the shoulders of LaRoche’s struggles, he certainly had the most disappointing season of anyone on the White Sox, regardless of whether they were acquired by the club before the 2015 season or before the 2007 season. Melky Cabrera has turned things around after a slow start, David Robertson just recorded his 30th save in his inaugural campaign in Chicago, and Zach Duke had his ERA a touch over 3.00 before the All-Star break (for more on his sub-par second half, check this out). The only reason Gordon Beckham did not enter contention for worst off-season acquisition is because his salary costs Jerry Reinsdorf $10 million less than LaRoche this season. That is why I can confidently say the signing of LaRoche was the worst transaction of any kind for Rick Hahn and Co. in between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Who gets your nomination for the worst off-season move for the White Sox? Let us know in the comments section!