Source says Nats eyeing Prior, Jennings
Washington evaluating pair of free-agent right-handed pitchers
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals continue to look for starting pitching, and according to baseball sources, they have expressed interest in right-handers Mark Prior and Jason Jennings. Both pitchers are free agents and coming off injuries. The team is planning to look over their medical records to see if it's worth signing them.
General manager Jim Bowden and John Boggs, Prior's agent, were not available for comment.
Prior, who recently was non-tendered by the Cubs, didn't pitch during the 2007 season because of a shoulder injury. He had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in April and may not be ready until mid-May.
Prior, 27, was 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA in 106 starts for Chicago. His best season was in 2003, when he was 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA. However, Prior has spent a lot of time on the disabled list, and most of his injuries had nothing do with what he has done on the mound. For example, Prior collided with then-Braves second baseman Marcus Giles while running the bases in 2003. Prior suffered a bruised right shoulder during the play.
If Prior played for the Nationals, he could be the power pitcher they are looking for. During his career, Prior has 757 strikeouts in 657 innings.
The Nationals have targeted Jennings for quite some time.
Jennings, 29, missed most of last season because of a tear in the flexor tendon in his right elbow. He went 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA for the Astros. Jennings recently said he is 100 percent and already has started his throwing program. He is best remembered for his years with the Rockies. Jennings' best season was in 2002, when he went 16-8 with a 4.52 ERA.
"At this point, I'm open to anybody. I want to take advantage of being a free agent," Jennings told MLB.com during the Winter Meetings. "You work hard to get to this point, and I want to see where all my options are. With the new ballpark coming, [Washington] would be one of the more interesting places to go, as opposed to the last two years when they were at RFK."
The Nationals already have a lot young starting pitchers, including Shawn Hill, Jason Bergman, John Lannan, Matt Chico and Tyler Clippard, but it's no secret the team would like to add some veteran help to the club.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.