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Nationals targeting Lee for first base

Nationals targeting Lee for first base

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WASHINGTON -- The Nationals continue to look for a first baseman and they have expressed interest in free agent Derrek Lee, a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com.

If Lee were to go to Washington, it would mean that the team would have an above average defensive first baseman and a character person, who could lead players such as shortstop Ian Desmond and second baseman Danny Espinosa.

Lee could provide power in the middle of the lineup. This past season, Lee played for the Cubs and Braves and hit a combined .260 with 19 home runs and 80 RBIs. He played most of the season with a thumb injury and had surgery after the Braves were eliminated by the Giants in the National League Division Series. Lee is expected to be 100 percent by Spring Training.

Lee is best known for his years with the Marlins and Cubs. He helped Florida defeat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and was a big factor in the Cubs going to the postseason in 2007 and '08.

During his 14-year career, Lee has a career .282 batting average with 312 home runs and 1,019 RBIs. He has also won three Gold Gloves.

Lee isn't the only player the Nationals are looking at to replace Adam Dunn at first base. They are still in the mix for Adam LaRoche. A source indicated that the two parties are in talks, but are not close to an agreement.

Without saying who he was going after, general manager Mike Rizzo said recently he could be looking for a long- or short-term solution at the position. Rizzo said he is not going to be rushed into any deal.

"We will explore both options, so it expands our pool a little bit more," Rizzo said. "I don't ever want to feel rushed to do a deal. I think when you feel rushed to do a deal, you make a deal that you may not have wanted to do. So we are going to look at our options. We feel there are still good options out there, and we will see where they take us."

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