GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adam LaRoche, a veteran of 12 seasons and slated to make $13 million this year, walked into the White Sox clubhouse Tuesday morning and shocked the organization by letting his teammates know in a lengthy meeting that he intends to retire.LaRoche informed the team of his intentions
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adam LaRoche, a veteran of 12 seasons and slated to make $13 million this year, walked into the White Sox clubhouse Tuesday morning and shocked the organization by letting his teammates know in a lengthy meeting that he intends to retire.
LaRoche informed the team of his intentions to "step away from baseball" after sleeping on the decision overnight. During the clubhouse meeting, his teammates and others implored him to give it a couple of more days before he decides to hang it up and call it a career.
"I want to sleep on it again," LaRoche told reporters Tuesday, as quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times. "I didn't come in [Monday] because I wanted to make sure it was the right move and [not] make an emotional decision. I'm confident it is. Out of my respect for these guys and [general manager] Rick [Hahn] they asked me to give it a day or two to confirm."
For Hahn's part, you can count him among those who were surprised by LaRoche's decision, and despite universal sentiment in the organization that they'd love for him to reconsider, Hahn doesn't expect that to be the case at this point.
"Obviously, we were surprised by Adam's decision today, but after extensive conversations with him between us and he and his coaches and he and his teammates, you have to be respectful of the guy and understand his perspective and where he's coming from," Hahn said. "We'll make adjustments and move on."
LaRoche's announcement came as the 36-year-old is attempting to come back from back spasms that knocked him out of a March 6 Cactus League game. He had been slated to return to the lineup Monday but did not, with White Sox manager Robin Ventura saying he just needed another day. But, as LaRoche sat at his corner locker in street clothes as his teammates dressed for the day, bigger news was on the horizon.
Later Tuesday afternoon, LaRoche tweeted: "Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved! #FamilyFirst."
"I think any time something like that happens in spring, it takes everybody back a bit," Ventura said. "I was surprised. I was hoping he'd stick it through and continue on with us. He's a man of principle, and he made his mind up. I respect him for that."
LaRoche signed a two-year, $25 million deal to come to the White Sox last year, and he'll be leaving behind the $13 million he was scheduled to make in 2016 once he officially retires.
Said Hahn: "In the end, he's been playing this game for the right reasons, and not strictly for economic ones."
What it all means for the White Sox going forward is an open subject. With the signing earlier this month of veteran Austin Jackson, the White Sox have depth in camp. But Hahn indicated this might also provide an opportunity to look outside of the organization to find help, whether it's soon or down the road closer to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"I didn't anticipate this coming, but we tried to build this roster so that it would be insulated against injury or underperformance," Hahn said. "Retirement wasn't on that list, but it's the same type of scenario that we attempted to protect ourselves against."
While the addition of Jackson gives the White Sox ample personnel in the outfield which can be used for the DH slot LaRoche was going to fill at least part of the time, first base is a bit thinner behind Jose Abreu. Catcher Alex Avila and third baseman Todd Frazier both have played some at first, and non-roster invitee Travis Ishikawa is a first baseman by trade. Other options may be explored as well internally, but Hahn promises he'll leave "no stone unturned" in making sure the White Sox can handle LaRoche's pending departure.
"At this point, it's too early to know how exactly it's going to play out," Hahn said. "We're going to take a few days, let things settle a bit and decide how we're going to deploy our assets on hand, and who we'll maybe target outside the organization as well."
LaRoche struggled in 2015, hitting just .207/.293/.340 with 12 home runs in 127 games. LaRoche is a .260/.336/.462 career hitter in 12 years with the Braves, Pirates, Red Sox, D-backs, Nationals and White Sox. He won the National League Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger in 2012 with Washington.
"I'm confident I am stepping away from baseball," LaRoche said, as quoted by the Chicago Tribune. "My teammates have asked me for an hour [to reconsider]. I've tried to convince them I am convinced, but I will do them that, and give it a day or two, and then come back in and finish the story."
Said Hahn: "I think when he woke up this morning, he was very certain as to the course of action he wanted to take. He's a man of great conviction, so I don't think we're going to necessarily see a change of heart from him. That said, with the outpouring he heard from his teammates, as well as those of us who are around the office, there's certainly that potential that maybe he does change at some point. I don't think it's a decision he by any means took lightly."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB.