MLBTradeRumors claims that the Dbacks are in very very preliminary talks for a LaRoche extension.
I don't quite understand this move, and I'm not sure how I feel about this. For one thing, I thought we were supposed to be cutting costs next year. LaRoche's market value is probably somewhere between 8-10 million per year. Best case scenario for the Dbacks in my mind, is probably something along the lines of the 3 year 20 million range. That means we'd be chalking up 6-8 million next year. I'm not even convinced LaRoche will necessarily take that, but maybe he's willing to take less than market value since he does play better at Chase than away from Chase (though his splits aren't as insane as KJ's). If he does take something like that, we're getting a reasonably good deal as LaRoche is a pretty consistent 2+ WAR guy each year. And, I think LaRoche's defense is underrated. His overall ability to get to balls in his zone is probably depicted fairly well by UZR, but LaRoche's abilities to dig balls out of the dirt is pretty much second to none, and may be a big reason why a lot of our other infielders have shown significant defensive improvements. Which means his overall value might be even better than what Fangraphs suggests.
The thing is, what are we going to do with Brandon Allen? The kid is a legitimate prospect. His triple slash for the year in Reno is 265/406/549 for an OPS of 955. That's good for fifth among qualifiers in the PCL. And no, that is not a typo. His OBP is 140 points higher than his BA. It's true we should fear power slugging numbers in the PCL, and I'm sure Allen has benefitted a lot from that given his 23 home runs in 328 at bats. However, the PCL can't exaggerate OBP which bodes well for future success. This doesn't mean that Allen will be able to break 2 WAR next year if he starts at 1B, but all evidence suggests he'd be a more than adequate replacement for LaRoche. I could easily see Allen, at worst, posting a line something like 230/320/450.
Which brings me back to the point of, why bother doing this? True, LaRoche will almost definitely be better than Allen at 1B next year. But we can get Allen for 500k while we have to pay LaRoche somewhere between 6-8 million. Why bother doing this if we aren't even going to try to contend next year? And if we are trying to contend, doesn't it make a lot more sense to have Dan Haren and Allen for a combined 13 million than LaRoche and Joe Saunders for a combined 13 million?
This move only makes sense if we think we can get LaRoche on the cheaper side (closer to 6 million next year than 8 million) AND if we think Allen can play effective defense in left. Allen, offensively, is almost guaranteed to be an upgrade over any other in house option we have at left field for next year (Parra has just not been effective enough, Ryal has had an insanely lucky year, and Church is basically useless), but I have no clue as to how good Allen is defensively in left. He's supposed to be athletic, so...maybe it'll all work out? Because the alternative is to sign LaRoche and keep Allen in AAA, which would be a terrible terrible decision in my mind. Waste of money in a year we are probably throwing away anyway, and we'll be suffocating the growth of a player who deserves an opportunity to play in the majors.