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11/21/11 2:28 PM EST

Nats pay visit to free-agent lefty Buehrle

The Nationals will visit free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle on Monday at the left-hander's home in St. Louis, a baseball source confirmed.

Finding a pitcher to lead their young rotation has been a priority for the Nationals this offseason.

"The type of pitcher we are looking for is a good leader-type of guy that throws a lot of innings, has shown that he can win in the big leagues, and can really lead our staff," general manager Mike Rizzo said recently, without mentioning any names. "It's not by having the best stuff on the staff, but showing how to be a professional, how to be a winner, how to pitch 200 innings in a season many, many times in a career. That's kind of the guy we are looking for."

Buehrle has thrown 201 innings for 11 years in a row and he has also been regarded as a good guy in the clubhouse.

Last season, Buehrle was 13-9 with a 3.59 ERA while throwing 205 1/3 innings for the White Sox.

Former Nationals outfielder Willie Harris, who was a teammate of Buehrle's for four seasons, including 2005 when the White Sox won the World Series, recently talked about Buehrle's value at the top of a rotation.

"Mark Buehrle was the leader of the rotation," Harris said. "We had Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland and Jose Contreras, but Buehrle led the way. I'm not taking anything away from those other pitchers, but I just felt that Mark Buehrle was the guy. He was the ace for the White Sox for a long time."

Buehrle has a career mark of 161-119 with a 3.83 ERA in 390 games (365 starts) over 12 Major League seasons in Chicago.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter MLB.com reporter Bill Ladson contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.