On the heels of making one of the most significant trades of the offseason, the Washington Nationals moved yesterday to try to fill spots vacated by the departure of Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge, who were traded to Texas for Alfonso Soriano, as well as to address what remains their greatest need -- starting pitching.
An organizational source said the Nationals were pursuing free agent Robert Fick, a former all-star with Detroit who played last year for San Diego. Fick could be a backup both in the outfield and at first base, and the Nationals particularly need someone to play behind first baseman Nick Johnson. In parts of eight major league seasons, Fick, 31, hit .260 with 65 homers and 299 RBI. He hit .265 for the Padres in 2005.
The Nationals also are pursuing right-hander Brett Tomko, who would be a fallback measure should the club be unable to sign some of the higher-priced free agents -- they have offers for Jarrod Washburn and Kevin Millwood. Tomko, 32, went 8-15 with a 4.48 ERA last season for the San Francisco Giants. Given that the Nationals have only three healthy starting pitchers -- Livan Hernandez, John Patterson and Brian Lawrence -- the fact that Tomko has thrown more than 190 innings in each of the last four seasons could prove appealing for Washington.
-- Barry Svrluga