11/05/12 5:12 PM ET
Second-base situation looms large for Nats
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
The team ended the season with the switch-hitting Espinosa as the starting second baseman, but he had problems from the left side of the plate, hitting .233 with 141 strikeouts. From the right side of the plate, Espinosa was much better, hitting .281 with 47 strikeouts. He is also a Gold Glove Award-caliber second baseman. There isn't any talk of Espinosa being strictly a right-handed hitter.
Lombadozzi, who is an excellent defensive infielder, was a backup player most of the season and hit .273 with an on-base percentage of .317. His playing time diminished once shortstop Ian Desmond was activated from the disabled list in August. Manager Davey Johnson has often said that Lombardozzi is not a bench player.
To prove that point, the source said the Nationals are looking for a backup middle infielder, which indicates that the team doesn't consider Espinosa or Lombardozzi future bench players.
Johnson and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo were not available for comment.
LaRoche, Nats no closer to agreement
WASHINGTON -- As of Monday, according to person familiar with free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, the two parties are not close to a deal.
The Nationals made a qualifying offer of $13.3 million to LaRoche this past Friday, LaRoche has until 5 p.m. ET this Friday to decide whether to accept the offer.
LaRoche said he would like to return to the Nationals, but he wants a multiyear deal. LaRoche had a mutual option that was worth $10 million, but he turned that down last Thursday morning.
LaRoche and Rizzo were not available for comment. If the Nationals are unable to re-sign LaRoche, they most likely will put Michael Morse back at first base.
The Nationals have re-signed outfielder Chris Rahl and infielder/outfielder Jimmy Van Ostrand to Minor League contracts. Both players played for Harrisburg this past season. Rahl hit .291 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs, while Van Ostrand hit .310 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.