UPDATE (8:52 PM CST): The Nationals have "cooled" on the idea of signing Leake and a deal is now unlikely, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Leake will continue to talk to interested clubs and may sign a deal in the near future.
Sources: #Nationals cooling on Leake. Pursuing other pitchers. Agreement with Leake now considered unlikely.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 10, 2015
UPDATE from Chris Cotillo (2:42 PM CST): Multiple sources have indicated that the Nationals are a serious player for Leake, and that the sides are in active discussions. The sense here is that a deal could come together quickly between the sides in Nashville.
One source briefed on the talks believed that substantial progress had been made, though two other sources did not believe an agreement was close as of early this afternoon.
Leake is a favorite of Nationals manager Dusty Baker and general manager Mike Rizzo, who scouted him heavily as an amateur at Arizona State.
ORIGINAL (Chris Schubert): The Nationals are one of several teams making a run at free agent right-hander Mike Leake, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Washington has made a formal offer, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports.
Sources: #Nationals making push for free-agent RHP Mike Leake. Other clubs also aggressive. Leake played for Dusty Baker with #Reds.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 9, 2015
nats have made mike leake an offer and are pushing for a deal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2015
With the Diamondbacks trading for Shelby Miller, they are likely out of the running for Leake. Washington being in the mix is rather surprising. Mainly their focus has been on adding a bat, making a hard push for Ben Zobrist and they have dabbled in the relief market as well. Even though they lost Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister to free agency, the Nationals hadn't been linked to any starters.
That's mainly because their 2016 rotation is lined up pretty nicely. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez anchor the top half of the rotation, with young guns like Tanner Roark and Joe Ross rounding out the rotation. If either of those players struggle, A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito are very close to being able to help the Nats big league club.
A potential deal could make sense if general Mike Rizzo could pull of something like what the Cubs did with Zobrist. If they can pair the signing of Leake with a trade of one of their current starting pitchers, they would have room for him. Strasburg is a free agent following the 2016 season and they might want to cash-in on him before he departs. They also could shop Gonzalez to see what he could fetch on the market as well.
Washington being interested in Leake doesn't mean that they will end up signing him, but if they want to bring him into the fold, it would probably require them to make a trade in order for Leake to have a spot.