Adam LaRoche In; Eric Byrnes Out

Adam LaRoche In; Eric Byrnes Out

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with first baseman Adam LaRoche on a one-year contract for 2010, with a mutual option for 2011. LaRoche will receive $4.5 million this year and has a mutual option clause for $7.5 million in 2011 with a $1.5 million buyout. The buyout increases to $9.5 million if LaRoche is traded.

Adam LaRoche, 30, hit a combined .277 with 38 doubles, 2 triples, 25 home runs, and 83 RBI in 150 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox ,and Atlanta Braves last season. Over the final two months of the season, he batted .325 (69-for-212) with 11 doubles, a triple, 12 home runs, and 40 RBI in 57 games.

"Adam has been a very consistent performer throughout his career," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "He will improve our offense and help provide left/right balance to our lineup."

Over parts of six seasons in the majors with the Braves (2004-06, 2009), Pirates (2007-2009), and Red Sox (2009), LaRoche has batted .274  with 205 doubles, 7 triples, 136 home runs and 469 RBI in 838 career games. Among first baseman since 2004, he ranks sixth with 203 doubles, eighth with 772 hits, ninth with 459 RBI, 10th with 134 home runs and 15th with an .839 OPS.  Since debuting in 2004, his career .995 fielding percentage ranks tied for ninth while his 793 games are seventh-most among all first baseman. In eight postseason games with the Braves in 2004-05, he has batted .320 (8-for-25) with two doubles, two home runs, and 10 RBI.

Over the final two months of the season for his career (August-October), LaRoche has batted .306  with 75 doubles, 3 triples, 56 home runs and 181 RBI in 297 games.  The fact that he is a notoriously slow starter would appear to make him less than an ideal candidate for his current role.  The Diamondbacks need someone to man first base for the first four months of the season before siphoning some of the playing time to prospect Brandon Allen

"We still think a lot of Brandon Allen," Byrnes said. "As we plan for 2011, he's absolutely a part of that plan."

LaRoche comes from a baseball family as his father, Dave, was a two-time All-Star while pitching for five teams over 14 seasons in the majors from 1970-83. His brother, Andy, has played three seasons in the majors for the Los Angeles Dodgers (2007-08) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2008-09).

April 2009 Interview with LaRoche:
July 2009 Interview with LaRoche:

Interviews conducted by George Von Benko of PiratesDugout.com.

In a corresponding move, the D-backs designated outfielder Eric Byrnes for assignment. The D-backs have 10 days to trade, release or outright Byrnes to the minor leagues, but the team has already explored trade avenues to no avail and will be on the hook for the $11 million remaining on his ill-advised three-year contract extension signed in August of 2007.

Byrnes hit .226 (54-for-239) with 14 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs, and 31 RBI over 84 games last season. It was an injury-shortened campaign due to a fractured left hand suffered on June 25. He was placed on the disabled list on June 26 and reinstated on September 5.

"In assessing our roster, I didn't see a great opportunity for Eric Byrnes to make our club or play a primary role on our club," Josh Byrnes admitted.

Byrnes, 33, hit .261 with 94 doubles, 13 triples, 61 home runs, and 216 RBI in 439 games over 4 seasons with Arizona. Over parts of 10 seasons in the majors with the Oakland Athletics (2000-05), Colorado Rockies (2005), Baltimore Orioles (2005), and D-backs (2006-09), he has batted .260 with 189 doubles, 30 triples, 109 home runs and 396 RBI in 948 career games. 

He is the opposite of LaRoche, in that he generally starts seasons strong before wearing down due to fatigue from his all-out style of play.  For his career, Byrnes has an .805 OPS prior to the All-Star break and a .701 OPS thereafter.


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