Evan Vucci/AP Evan Vucci/AP

The Nationals remain in contact with right-hander Chris Young, their top target in the search to improve their starting pitching depth. On the eve of opening day, Assistant General Manager Bryan Minniti spoke with Young’s agent to gauge where Young stood.

Young, 33, opted out of his minor league contract with the Nationals last week after making three strong starts during spring training. Young “loved” his brief time with the Nationals, but he wanted to pursue a guaranteed major league contract. If he does not find one, he could return to the Nationals.

“The decision is in Chris’s hands,” Rizzo said. “We’ve been in conversation with him since he left us.”

The Nationals would like to add Young as insurance at Class AAA Syracuse behind their established starting five. Last year, the Nationals received 150 starts from their best five starters, a stroke of health and good fortune they know they are unlikely to duplicate.

Without Young, the Nationals would plan to rely on left-handed reliever Zach Duke and Class AAA right-handers Ross Ohlendorf and Yunesky Maya, both of whom have major league experience.

Last season with the Mets, Young posted a 4.15 ERA over 20 starts after he finished rehab from major shoulder surgery. Young allowed four earned runs over 16 major league innings this spring, and in his final two starts he did not allow an earned run over nine innings against the Astros and Marlins.