MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nationals extend offer to RHP Leake

Rizzo adds Kelley to 'pen, still looking for a lefty hitter

Nationals extend offer to RHP Leake

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As of Wednesday evening, general manager Mike Rizzo was doing his best to improve the Nationals at the 2015 Winter Meetings. He'd like to add depth to the starting rotation, so Rizzo made a contract offer to right-hander Mike Leake.

On paper, it appears the Nationals have plenty of starting pitching, with Joe Ross and Tanner Roark looking to replace Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann in the rotation. They also have No. 1 prospect Lucas Giolito waiting in the wings.

Hot Stove Tracker

The chances of the Nationals signing the 28-year-old Leake are "iffy at best." It's not clear what kind of contract Leake is looking for, but a published report said the D-backs offered the right-hander a five-year deal.

"It's as serious as a lot of the talks that we have. We are checking a lot of fronts for pitching and position player-wise," Rizzo said. "I wouldn't describe it as any further along than a lot of other things that we have.

"We are always in the market to improve the ballclub any way we can. If you have to strengthen the strength or try to refine a weakness -- there are different, different strategies going on all the time."

MLB Tonight: Mike Rizzo

After losing out on the Ben Zobrist sweepstakes to the Cubs, the Nationals are looking to acquire a left-handed bat. They expressed interest in Neil Walker, but talks between the Nationals and Pirates never heated up. The Pirates ended up trading Walker to the Mets for left-hander Jon Niese.

"We would like to be more balanced," Rizzo said. "If we have a quality player that improves our lineup and improves our club, we certainly going to look at all avenues of it."

It looks like Rizzo will leave the Winter Meetings with a much better bullpen. The Nationals agreed to terms with right-hander Shawn Kelley, pending a physical, while also working on signing right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, according to a baseball source.

Kelley strikes out side in 7th

Kelley, who is expected to pitch in the late innings for Washington, had the best year of his career in 2015, playing in 53 games with a 2.45 ERA for the Padres.

If the Nationals sign Petit, who was non-tendered by the Giants recently, he will most likely be a long man out of the bullpen. Washington is looking to revamp its bullpen after it struggled in the second half of '15, but Rizzo is still open to trading arms at the the back-end of the bullpen -- Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.