Though the Nationals have visions of acquiring a veteran starting pitcher who can serve as a mentor for young aces Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, general manager Mike Rizzo is going to face stiff competition from other clubs seeking similar arms.
Two pitchers high on the Nationals' wish list -- right-hander Roy Oswalt and left-hander Mark Buehrle -- each are coveted by other teams, some of which could offer a better situation than would be the case in Washington.
Buehrle, who has made at least 30 starts and pitched at least 200 innings for the White Sox in each of the last 11 seasons, reportedly met today with officials from the Marlins, a franchise seeking to make a big splash before opening its new ballpark in April.
The White Sox also have strong interest in retaining Buehrle, who made 14 million last season and could receive a raise after going 13-9 with a 3.59 ERA and winning his third straight Gold Glove award.
Oswalt, meanwhile, is reportedly seeking to sign with a club that will provide him the opportunity to win a World Series. Let go last week by the Phillies, who opted not to pick up his 16 million option for 2012, the right-hander could be pursued by the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers: three high-profile organizations that have reached the postseason in the last two years.
Rizzo could certainly try to convince Oswalt the Nationals have a chance to become contenders in the next year or two, but it could still be a tough sell for the 34-year-old hurler, who has reached the World Series only once his career (in 2005 with the Astros) and lost.