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Nationals close to signing King

Nationals close to signing King

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WASHINGTON -- A few hours after they acquired outfielder Lastings Milledge in a trade with the Mets, the Nationals are close to signing left-hander Ray King to a non-guaranteed Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

According to a baseball source, if King, 33, makes the team out of Spring Training, he will make $850,000. General manager Jim Bowden was not available for comment.

Once the deal is official, it will mark King's second stint with Washington. Last year he was a valuable situational lefty out of the bullpen for the Nationals, going 1-1 with a 4.54 ERA in 55 games before being traded to the Brewers in September for outfielder/first baseman Andrew Lefave. As a member of the Nationals, King held left-handed hitters to a .161 batting average.

"It's a situation where I'm familiar with [manager] Manny Acta and Bowden -- get back where I know," King said by phone. "It's a good situation for me."

King vows to be in the best shape of his life for 2008. He has lost some weight by running daily and playing basketball. His goal is to lose 25 pounds and gain more flexibility.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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