The Chicago White Sox did not need Adam LaRoche and the drama that came.
The Chicago White Sox won the offseason in 2016. For the first time in years, fans had a team to be excited about. Rick Hahn kicked off the winter meetings by trading for Jeff Samardzija and then followed that up by adding the best reliever on the market, David Robertson.
Hahn continued his spending spree by adding Melky Cabera, Zake Duke, and Emilio Bonifacio. None of these signings panned out. But none were worse than Adam LaRoche. The White Sox needed a designated hitter and had Victor Martinez on their wish list.
Martinez wound up resigning with the Tigers and hit .289 with 27 home runs the following season. Hahn settled with LaRoche instead who was another left-handed bat that could hit for power. He signed a two-year deal worth $25 million.
His first season with the White Sox was very unproductive. He only hit 12 home runs which was the lowest amount of his career in a season that he played at least 100 games. Despite hitting in the middle of the lineup, he drove in a pedestrian 44 RBIs.
Meanwhile, he was slashing .207/.293/.340 which is well below his career averages. The following offseason, the White Sox retooled by adding Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro, Brett Lawrie, Todd Frazier, Matt Albers, Matt Latos, and Jimmy Rollins. Once again, the team looked promising on paper.
However, the season got derailed before it even began because of LaRoche. Specifically his 14-year old son Drake. Adam had let Drake hang around the clubhouse the entire season. According to Kenny Williams, he was around 100% of the time.
He even had his own locker and his own uniform. This is not normal. When veterans like Jimmy Rollins and Todd Frazier entered the clubhouse they began to grumble about how strange it was. Eventually, some players complained about the excessive nature of Drake being in the clubhouse.
Trouble began to emerge in the locker room. Chris Sale and Adam Eaton took the side of LaRoche. When Kenny Williams suggested dialing back Drakes appearances in the locker room, Adam LaRoche opted to retire before the season even started, leaving $13 million on the table. Chaos ensued.
The rift between Todd Frazier and Adam Eaton got so bad that their lockers had to be separated. Chris Sale was so upset at Kenny Williams that he screamed at him to get out of the clubhouse. The White Sox almost boycotted a spring training game. Robin Ventura even considered resigning before the season.
The entire situation was a complete sideshow. Drake LaRoche came across as spoiled, Chris Sale and Adam Eaton looked completely out of touch, and the White Sox season was doomed from the start. They finished fourth in the divison with a 78-84 record. Overall, the Adam LaRoche signing was one they would have liked to have back.