Adam LaRoche, as you may have heard, is reportedly retiring from baseball because the Chicago White Sox have limited his 14-year-old son’s access to the clubhouse, saying the boy can’t be there every day like he was last year.
There may, however, be more to this story than meets the eye.
“The reality is that we’re talking about a player coming off one of the worst seasons he’s ever had, one of the worst seasons that any home run hitter who was paid $25 million for two years ever had,” The Score & CBSChicago.com Cubs writer Bruce Levine said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “All of a sudden it comes to spring training, (there was) a handshake deal with the front office that his son could be in the locker room last year. He had his own locker, this year his own locker. And then three weeks into it, they tell him he can’t. (LaRoche has) been hurt for 10 days with a bad back, nobody knows if he can make a comeback, so there’s a lot of moving parts to this story.”
LaRoche, 36, hit .207 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs in 127 games last season – this after hitting 20+ home runs in nine of his previous 10 seasons. In the only season he did not, 2011, LaRoche was limited to 43 games.
“Basically, he gave back $13 million because he feels insulted,” Levine said. “We have a team that’s excited about it because they didn’t really want to pay $13 million to a guy that hit .207. We have possibly a Players Association issue where the Players Association will look at it and say, ‘Did you insult this man and try to push him out of his contract because you didn’t want him around and to pay his money?’
“So many, many moving parts to this,” Levine continued. “We expect to hear from Adam LaRoche in the next day or so to say for sure that he’s going to retire or come back, but it’s certainly created a stir on Twitter and social media.”
LaRoche struck out in 31 percent of his at-bats last season – nearly 10 percent more often than he did in 2014 (21.9 percent).
“Him quitting is not going to bother the White Sox,” Levine said. “They’re not going to be sad about it because the fact is nobody knows if this guy can hit again. He’s a 25-home-run, 75-to-80 RBI guy that’s going to strike out 150 to 160 times and play first base if they let him. But he was a DH in the AL. He hasn’t been an American League player before. Nobody knows if he’s going to be any good anymore, including Adam LaRoche. So the questioning here is whether LaRoche was really insulted by this whole thing or if he himself questions whether or not he can still play. Those are things we have to talk to him about and he needs to answer, if he chooses to do it. Otherwise he can just retire, walk off into he sunset and know that he did the right thing by standing up for a handshake deal that he had with management that they reneged on.
“So there’s plenty of moving parts here, plenty of people you can point the finger to and say it’s their fault,” Levine continued. “In reality, the best situation for him now is to go home, retire, let the White Sox use that $13 million to acquire Jay Bruce or Carlos Gonzalez or possibly go after Andre Ethier. Those are left-handed hitters who are on the market and will most likely be traded before July 31.”