MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Source: Nationals in hot pursuit of Heyward

Source: Nationals in hot pursuit of Heyward

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals are "heavily involved" in trying to acquire free-agent outfielder Jason Heyward, MLB.com confirmed through a source. CBSSports.com was the first to report the Nationals were in the mix for Heyward.

According to the source, Washington entered the sweepstakes at the last minute and "it's legit" that Heyward could sign with the Nationals, who are competing against the Cubs and Cardinals. Heyward could sign by this week.

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The Nationals are in need of a left-handed bat to balance the lineup, as well as a center fielder to replace Denard Span. Heyward is an excellent baserunner and a three-time Gold Glove Award winner. He started his career with the Braves in 2010 before getting traded to the Cardinals before the 2015 season. In his year with St. Louis, Heyward hit .293 with 13 home runs, 60 RBIs and a .359 on-base percentage.

If the Nationals are able to get Heyward, it would mean outfielder Michael Taylor would become expendable. Taylor spent a lot of time in center field in '15, hitting .229 with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs.

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.