The odds would appear long, but the Nationals are among the clubs talking to free-agent right-hander John Smoltz.
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“There is mutual sincere interest,” said one source with knowledge of the discussions.
Nationals president Stan Kasten, who previously was with the Braves, is a longtime admirer of Smoltz, who spent most of his career in Atlanta.
Smoltz, 42, almost certainly would prefer to sign with a National League contender rather than the Nationals, who lost 103 games last season and finished last in the NL East.
The Cardinals, Smoltz’s most recent team, remain his top choice, another source said. The Phillies also have shown interest, but Smoltz previously has expressed displeasure with hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.
The Nationals will try to sell Smoltz on the idea of serving as a mentor to their young pitching staff. Smoltz might be intrigued by the notion, particularly if his other options are limited.
Right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in last year’s amateur draft, is expected to enter the Nationals’ rotation at some point next season.