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Nationals looking at an "underrated" starter in free agency

Lynn had an excellent 2017 season with the Cardinals after missing the previous year recovering from Tommy John surgery

The Nationals are already above the $197 million luxury-tax threshold but are looking into options to shore up their rotation.

According to a report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, the team is eyeing free-agent right-hander Lance Lynn.

Washington is currently slated to have A.J. Cole as its fifth starter with Joe Ross a possibility to start late in the season as he recovers from July 2017 Tommy John surgery. The Nationals could also stand to add starting-pitching depth, as Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark are set to hit free agency after the 2018 and 2019 seasons, respectively.

The luxury tax could become a problem for the Nationals, as they already project for a $201.4 million payroll, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. They paid a $1.43 million penalty for surpassing the threshold last season, and their penalty rate will increase from 20 to 30 percent this season. That penalty will further increase should their payroll exceed $217 million.

Earlier in the offseason, the Nationals were connected to top free-agent starters Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, but Lynn would prove to be a cheaper option.

Lynn, 30, had an excellent 2017 season with the Cardinals after missing the previous year recovering from Tommy John surgery. He went 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA and 153 strikeouts over 186 1/3 innings. He held an ERA under 4.00 in each of his six seasons.

If Lynn joined the Nationals, he would be reunited with pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, who had been the Cardinals' pitching coach throughout Lynn's tenure in St. Louis. Lynn has also been connected to the Rangers, Brewers and Orioles, among other teams.

MLB.com

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