But the team finds itself in competition with the Mets for Wolf's services. It's not known how much money the Nationals are willing to spend on the southpaw, but the club envisions Wolf as a leader who could serve as a mentor for young pitchers, such as John Lannan and Scott Olsen, on how to win.
"[The Nationals] would like Wolf to stabilize their rotation," the source said.
This past season, Wolf, 32, split time with the Padres and Astros, going a combined 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 33 starts. Wolf was one of the reasons the Astros were in the National League Wild Card race. He was 6-2 with a 3.57 ERA, and Houston won 10 of Wolf's 12 starts.
Last year was Wolf's best season since 2003, when he won 16 games for the Phillies. In between those two successful seasons, however, Wolf spent a lot of time on the disabled list because of elbow and shoulder problems.
The Nationals have already dipped into the free-agent market for a starting pitcher. On Dec. 29, Washington agreed to terms with right-hander Daniel Cabrera, who will make $2.6 million in 2009.
Cabrera was 8-10 with a 5.25 ERA for the Orioles this past season.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.