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11/29/11 11:56 PM EST

Nationals scouting Cuban slugger Cespedes

Rizzo in Dominican Republic to watch 26-year-old outfielder

WASHINGTON -- A few days before going to the Winter Meetings in Dallas, the Nationals are searching for a center fielder.

According to a baseball source, general manager Mike Rizzo is currently in the Dominican Republic scouting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a five-tool player from Cuba who is expected to become a free agent sometime this offseason. Rizzo has been looking at Cespedes the last couple of days. The Nationals are one of several teams showing interest in Cespedes.

The Nationals believe Cespedes is big league ready. He is a right-handed-hitting slugger who could join Michael Morse and Jayson Werth in the middle of the lineup.

It's not known what kind of contract Cepedes is looking for once he becomes a free agent.

"It's really touchy feely," Cespedes' agent, Adam Katz, said to MLB.com early this month. "He's an unusual guy. He's 26. He's Major League ready. ... A value will be established. People will bid competitively, and it will be what it will be."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Reporter Jesse Sanchez contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.