The team is reportedly in competition with the Angels, Red Sox, Yankees and Mets for his services.
The Nationals are looking for an ace who can tutor pitchers such as John Lannan, Ross Detwiler and Stephen Strasburg. Washington has been looking for this type of pitcher since after the Trade Deadine. It ended up signing right-hander Livan Hernandez in late August. While he did a good job for the Nationals, it's less than 50-50 that he will return to the club.
Lackey, who is 31 years old, has played his entire eight-year career with the Angels. He has won 102 games and has averaged 187 innings per season. His best season was in 2007, when he went 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA with Los Angeles.
This is the second year in a row in which the Nationals have been players for a big-name free agent. The Nationals tried to sign Mark Teixeira last offseason, but he ended up signing with the Yankees.
Asked this past season, how the Nationals can convince a solid veteran pitcher to come to a team that has the worst record in the Major Leagues over the past two years, general manager Mike Rizzo said, "You have to show the veteran pitcher what the plan is, our plan for success, how we are built to perform at this level at this given time.
"We have to have a special type of veteran pitcher, who is willing to give of himself as a teacher and mentor type of guy. We have to get a team-oriented person, a person that is going to give his time and his knowledge. It's not an easy task.
"We think with the additions of an Adam Dunn, a Josh Willingham and Nyjer Morgan, it's going to attract some veteran players. These guys know what we are doing here. It's all over the league where we are at and what we are trying to do. I think they can see this is the beginning of a good, exciting ballclub."
In other news, contrary to published reports, the Nationals do not have interest in shortstop Adam Everett. A baseball source said the Nationals would rather spend their money on pitching. While the Nationals like the defense Everett brings, they feel that he isn't going to bring much offense to the table. He is a .238 lifetime hitter.
As of now, the Nationals are going with Ian Desmond at short and switching Cristian Guzman from short to second. The Nationals have not ruled out getting veteran shortstop who can hit.