Nationals’ left-handed relief options starting to thin

Ian Krol will have a chance to make the 2014 roster. (Matt Slocum / AP)

Ian Krol will have a chance to make the 2014 roster. (Matt Slocum / AP)

The Nationals cut a wide swath early in free agency in their pursuit of a left-handed reliever, but those efforts have yet to lead to an acquisition as some of their initial targets are starting to sign with opposing teams.

This afternoon, Manny Parra agreed to a two-year, $5.5 million deal to return to the Reds, according to several reports, starting with CBS Sports. The Nationals, according to a person familiar with the situation, had been interested in Parra before he decided today to take the Reds’ offer.

The Nationals also missed out on Javier Lopez, a native of Virginia who went back to the Giants on a three-year, $13 million deal. General Manager Mike Rizzo had contacted Lopez’s agent before the GM Meetings, and the sides shared “mutual interest” according to the agent, Barry Meister. But the Giants quickly gave Lopez a strong offer and lured him back.

The Nationals still have ample free agent targets available. They remain in dialogue with Boone Logan, a Yankees free agent coming off elbow surgery. They have also expressed significant interest in Oliver Perez. The Nationals were in on J.P. Howell last year when he was a free agent, and Howell is a free agent again this year and would again be a logical candidate.

Other left-hander relief free agents include Eric O’Flaherty, Scott Downs, Matt Thornton and former National Michael Gonzalez.

Internally, the Nationals recently took Fernando Abad off their 40-man roster and traded him to the A’s for a Class A outfielder. Incumbents Ian Krol and Xavier Cedeno will compete for roster spots in spring training, and the Nationals may break in starting prospect Sammy Solis as a reliever.

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