Presumed Plan : Adam LaRoche will continue to be the starter at first base. Tyler Moore will likely take up the primary back-up role, fitting in somewhere between a true back-up and a platoon.
Reasoning on Presumed Plan : Adam Laroche had an off year but offensively it wasn't as horrible as it seemed. A marked increase in OBP (.095 isoOBP) helped offset a big drop in SLG (isoSLG .239 to .166). He still hit righties for ok pop and with a return to career level BABIP he should put up a more typical unimpressive LaRochesque year in 2014, which not coincidentally he is being paid 12 million for.
Tyler Moore has proven over the last 2 years that he does not belong in AAA, putting up a .315 / .390 / .620 line over the course of two seasons. His right handedness complements LaRoche well and he can provide cheap late inning pop off the bench.
Problems with Presumed Plan : Adam LaRoche overall did have a horrible year. His mid career defensive renaissance has passed and once again he's a statue, albeit one with soft hands*. He continues to be surprisingly slow in general. Offensively there are problems too. His slumps seem to be getting longer, not only did he open with his typical slow start (.159 / .227 / .284) but his July (.136 / .213 / .259) was a big reason the complete team took a month to get going. His power drop is concerning as he was well below his career isoSLG of .210. He's almost a punch and judy hitter versus lefties now, "slugging" at a .336 rate.
Of course the alternative, Tyler Moore, has bigger issues. Those impressive AAA line have come in fairly limited play (29 games last year, 45 this year) and his major league performances have been less than impressive. After June of last year he's hit all of .220 with an unacceptable .265 OBP. While he has shown some pop in the past, this season he has not. Even in his hot stretch at the end he only hit 1 home run and a few doubles. And as you probably know, he doesn't offer anything else to a ball club outside of what he does at the plate.
My take : Basically the Nats are stuck as there is a dearth of first basemen on the market. I look at it and throw up my hands. Adam LaRoche is the starter. Hope he bounces back next year rather than crashes out. Honestly though he should be just ok and we should all just be happy we get that.
Is Tyler Moore the back-up? Not in my world. I've never liked what I've seen from the kid as he has no strike zone recognition. Now, I will note that he does seem to hit a lot better when he starts. I think he is a type that responds to playing time. So a platoon then? Well, if we're doing a strict platoon I would want Jeff Baker first. That guy kills lefties and plays a decent first. Failing that then I suppose you can TRY Moore, but with the very short leash that should have existed in 2013. I wouldn't be happy about that though. If you aren't platooning than Moore doesn't have much use on the bench, other than the fact that he indeed hits RH. I guess I might try a Lyle Overbay to back-up and provide some defensive help at the position. (but honestly can the Nats be convinced LaRoche hasn't got range and would need a late inning D replacement?)
Outside the Box Suggestion :
I toyed with moving someone to first but LaRoche shouldn't be terrible next year so moving him to the bench rather than a dominant platoon position would only be worth it if you could sign someone really good in this move. I'm not sure there's anyone available that I'd think of like that. Maybe if you could get Hart or Choo for cheaper/fewer years than we think they'd go for you could try Werth at first (or Hart for that matter) but that's gonna have to wait until the market plays out (and how often do you see guys go for less than you think they will?) So platoon idea it is.
Platoon yes, but bring back Mike Morse to do it. Now hear me out. He might be terrible at the plate and he will almost certainly be terrible in the field but you are buying super low right now. We're talking near minor league contract levels after the crappy season he put up in 2013. Sign him for peanuts, for one year, and give it a go with him as LaRoche's platoon partner. Something about Morse and the Nats worked, maybe moving back here to a league he grew familiar with would help him find a spark. If it doesn't work out you cut him and whatever. As for Moore, see if he can put up those great AAA numbers in... you know... at least half a AAA season. If he does that than maybe he warrants a closer look.
*Danny Espinosa where are you! It's funny that Span came in, and played great defense but the team as a whole crashed. Zimm played in and lost his range. LaRoche and Werth are aging out. Bryce looks more and more average the more time he spends out there. It was a team built with defense in mind but right now might only have two good defensive players. Luckily they are up the middle but still.