January 9, 2013 / 5:00 AM / 5 years ago

Nationals convince LaRoche to extend Washington stay

(Reuters) - The Washington Nationals finally persuaded Adam LaRoche to put pen to paper on Tuesday after spending the first half of the off-season courting their lead slugger.

The free agent inked a two-year deal worth $24 million with an option for a third season, adding solidity to an improving Nationals team and rewarding the franchise for their patience.

The 33-year-old had earlier declined to re-sign with the Nationals as he sought out a three-year deal but the first baseman eventually opted to return to a team where he has spent the last two seasons.

“We were patient with Adam and his representatives,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told the team’s website (washingtonnationals.mlb.com).

“At the end of the day, I think we both agreed (Washington) was the best place for Adam to be.”

Last season, LaRoche was instrumental in helping lead the Nationals to their first post-season berth since the team relocated from Montreal in 2004.

He hit .271 and led the team with 33 home runs and 100 RBIs as Washington (98-64) captured the National League East Division with the best overall MLB record.

Washington were beaten 3-2 in the best-of-five NL Division Series by the St Louis Cardinals, giving up four runs in the top of the ninth inning to fall 9-7 in the series decider.

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien

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