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12/07/10 7:20 PM EST

Nationals exploring front-line starter options

Greinke not an option; Garza might be target if he's available

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Count the Nationals out as far as acquiring Royals right-hander Zack Greinke, according to a baseball source.

The Royals felt the Nationals were not a match in terms of the players they wanted. Kansas City is looking for starting pitching and a right-handed-hitting outfielder who could hit for power.

Washington is also looking for starting pitching. The club is in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, but general manager Mike Rizzo reiterated it is unlikely the Nationals will acquire the lefty.

The Nationals could set their sights on Rays right-hander Matt Garza if he is available. Rizzo would like to add a No. 1 starter and put the rest of the starting pitchers in their proper places. For example, the organization never considered left-hander John Lannan a No. 1 starter. They feel he is more like a third or fourth starter on an above-average club.

Right now, Lannan is considered the No. 2 starter on the pitching staff. This past season, he was the Opening Day starter against the Phillies.

Harris among options for Nats' bench

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Entering the offseason, Albert Gonzalez and Mike Morse were the only reserves expected to return to the Nationals next season.

There is a chance outfielder Willie Harris could return to the club. Harris has fans in general manager Mike Rizzo and the Lerner ownership family. It helps that Harris could play every position except for first base, pitcher and behind the plate.

Harris reiterated recently that he wants to return to Washington.

To fill the rest of the bench, the Nationals are considering players such as David Eckstein, Aaron Miles or Willie Bloomquist. The Nats want players who will accept their roles without complaint. A baseball source said the club had too many reserves last year who had problems accepting their roles.

The Nationals are not expected to add bench strength until after the Winter Meetings.

Beltre to Nationals an unfounded rumor

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There was a rumor circulating at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday that the Nationals have interest in third baseman Adrian Beltre, but it turned out to be just a rumor. Washington already has a third baseman in Ryan Zimmerman.

It was even circulating that that Nationals would switch Zimmerman from third to first base if Beltre came on board. A baseball source was laughing when he heard the story. The source felt the Beltre camp is trying to get teams involved in a bidding war for the third baseman's services.

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.