Baseball-Nationals convince LaRoche to extend Washington stay

Jan 8 (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 (

"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)