The White Sox - and the rest of the AL Central to a lesser extent - received some surprising news when White Sox 1B/DH Adam LaRoche suddenly announced his retirement yesterday, citing personal reasons for his decision. In doing so, LaRoche is walking away from $13 million and it's not currently known what the Sox will do to replace him.
Edit: Supposedly LaRoche retired after being told White Sox president Kenny Williams would no longer allow LaRoche's 14-year old son into the clubhouse during the season. Um, what?
Despite playing two positions that typically produce plenty of offense, LaRoche provided anything but last season as he hit just .207/.293/.340 with only 12 home runs. The batting average and power output were both career lows, excluding an injury-plagued 43-game stint with the Nationals in 2011. He was so bad, he was 25% worse than the league average, equating him with the hitting exploits of Nick Punto's entire career.
Therefore, the Sox were counting on a rebound campaign from LaRoche in the middle of their lineup. However, his immediate retirement sends their roster into chaos as they now look for someone to fill the void. No players on their 40-man roster presently appear to be candidates to step in. Maybe Avisail Garcia because he's a horrid defender, but "Mini Miggy" has disappointed offensively and would not currently appear to be an upgrade over LaRoche. They could go to Jerry Sands, an outfielder that has looked like a "Quad-A" player because of his dominance of Triple-A but lack of success in the majors.
Of course, an outside source may be the solution for the White Sox. An old friend, perhaps?
Hmmm. Would the sudden development with Adam LaRoche prompt the White Sox to call a certain Canadian who wears No. 33?????— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) March 15, 2016
Admittedly, this is pure speculation from La Velle E. Neal III that Morneau is a possibility. However, he sure appears to be a good fit for the Sox now. For one, Morneau's career has been derailed by concussions and the chance to DH would help protect Morneau from the jostling of having to field a position. Second, the Sox have a history of installing a pair of first basemen in their lineup on a daily basis. For years, it was the duo of Paul Konerko and Jim Thome. Then Konerko teamed up with Jose Abreu for a year, though admittedly Konerko took a reduced role as he knew his career was coming to an end. Finally, the Sox attempted a Konerko/Thome Lite timeshare with the addition of LaRoche to join Abreu. With LaRoche now out of the picture, an adequate replacement could be found in Morneau.
Again, there is no guarantee, let alone any rumblings yet that Morneau is even under consideration. But, after the loss of LaRoche, it would not surprise me if we see Justin Morneau donning pinstripes on the South Side of Chicago at some point this season.