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Nats unlikely to sign top free agents

Nats unlikely to sign top free agents

WASHINGTON -- It appears the Nationals will not sign any major free agents this offseason. According to a baseball source, they will concentrate on their Minor League system and try to make trades for young players.

Recently, the Nationals were trying to sign free agents Milton Bradley, Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson, but Bradley signed a three-year deal with the Cubs on Thursday. Dunn has been linked to the Dodgers, while the Mets are reportedly after Hudson. Both Dunn and Hudson exceeded the Nationals' price range.

General manager Jim Bowden and team president Stan Kasten were not available for comment.

There were reports that the Nationals were interested in free agent Derek Lowe, but the club never had a conversation with the right-hander. The source said the team is not going to pay $12 million to $15 million per season for a 35-year-old pitcher.

Washington was willing to pay top dollar to Mark Teixeira. The team made a nine-year, $180 million offer to Teixeira, who eventually signed with the Yankees on Tuesday.

"Teixeira was the exception," the source said. "Dunn and Hudson overpriced themselves out of Washington. The Nationals will concentrate on development and scouting and making trades."

With the Nationals out of the Dunn and Hudson sweepstakes, it means that Nick Johnson will continue to be the everyday first baseman, while Anderson Hernandez will remain at second base.

Johnson, who is in the last year of his contract, missed most of last season because of a right wrist injury. Johnson said recently that he is expected to swing the bat sometime this month and be ready for Spring Training.

Hernandez was impressive after he was acquired from the Mets in a trade for reliever Luis Ayala last August. In 28 games, Hernandez hit .333 with 17 RBIs. He continued his hot hitting for the Licey Tigers of the Dominican Winter League. In 50 games, Hernandez went 77-for-211 (.365) with a home run and 29 RBIs.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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