Adam LaRoche has declined the Nationals' qualifying offer, making the first baseman a free agent.
LaRoche, who earned Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award honors recently while hitting .271 with 33 home runs and 100 RBIs, is the top first baseman on the free-agent market.
LaRoche, 33, turned down the Nationals' one-year, $13.3 million offer -- the average of the previous year's top 125 salaries. The Nationals receive a compensation pick between the first and second round of the 2013 Draft should LaRoche sign with another team.
The signing team would give up its first-round selection, though the top 10 picks of the Draft are protected, so any team holding a top-10 pick forfeits its second-round selection if it signs a player who received a qualifying offer.
A baseball source familiar with the Nationals and LaRoche said the two parties haven't talked in a few days, but indicated that LaRoche would love to return to the Nationals. LaRoche is looking for a multiyear deal.
If LaRoche goes elsewhere, the Nationals most likely will move Michael Morse back to first base and look for a left-handed-hitting slugger.
A nine-year veteran, LaRoche has hit .269 with 197 home runs and 684 RBIs during his career with the Braves, Pirates, Red Sox, D-backs and Nationals.