Source: Nationals express interest in Arrieta

Rizzo says club 'nowhere close' to decision on veteran starter

December 12th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In order to fill the need at the back end of their rotation, perhaps the Nationals will look to add another starting pitcher to the front of the rotation. Washington has expressed interest in free-agent right-hander , a source told's Mark Feinsand on Tuesday afternoon.

The connection between Arrieta and the Nationals is not surprising, considering Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, has a strong working relationship with the club. Boras sent a binder of information on his client to the Nationals and a few other teams. Just how intensely Washington plans to pursue Arrieta, however, is unclear.

"We're just in the information-gathering stage right now," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He's a great pitcher, but we're nowhere close to doing anything."

Arrieta would give the Nationals a third powerful right-hander atop the rotation, alongside Max Scherzer and , creating one of the most formidable rotation trios in the Majors. Combined with and , they could form one of the best rotations on paper in recent memory. That prospect could be enticing to the Nationals, who have built their roster around starting pitching during their recent run of success.

But Arrieta, who will turn 32 in March, will almost certainly command a nine-figure deal similar to those of Scherzer and Strasburg. The Nats still have more than $300 million committed to those two pitchers.

Rizzo has said he is only looking to add starting-pitching depth this offseason, aiming to boost the back end of the rotation instead of the top. He reiterated on Monday that he would be comfortable with one of his in-house options -- mainly A.J. Cole or -- beginning the season as the team's fifth starter.

However, Rizzo has traditionally added to the front of his rotation when his team has a starting-pitching need. With Gonzalez set to be a free agent after the 2018 season, perhaps the Nationals could lock in his replacement now. While Rizzo acknowledged Tuesday that nothing was imminent for the Nationals, he said he was willing to explore both free agency and the trade market to find starting pitching.

"We're open to both," Rizzo said. "I think we're going to find the best avenue for us and what gives us the most value in any type of deal. The thing with free agency is it doesn't cost you any prospects, but the trade market is sometimes more beneficial."