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11/18/08 6:22 PM EST

Perez keeping eye on free-agent market

Left-hander interested in returning to Nationals next season

WASHINGTON -- Don't look for left-hander Odalis Perez to sign a Major League contract soon. His agent, Martin Arburua, said recently that Perez is going to see how the free-agent market plays out before the left-hander signs any deal.

This past season, Perez, 31, pitched for the Nationals and made $850,000, a huge pay cut from the $7.7 million he made while pitching for the Royals the previous season. Arburua declined to say what kind of deal Perez is looking for.

Perez went 7-12 with a 4.34 ERA in 30 starts for Washington.

"He is interested in coming back," Arburua said. "I have spoke briefly with [general manager] Jim [Bowden] and there is interest from the team, and we are basically taking a look at the market and [will] see from there. The Nationals lost a lot of games last year, so they have a lot of holes to fill."

Bowden confirmed on Tuesday there is interest in re-signing Perez, but he is taking a wait-and-see approach.

"We are exploring all avenues to improve the club long-term," Bowden said. "We are going to take a patient and cautious approach."

Bowden improved the pitching staff last week by acquiring left-hander Scott Olsen from the Marlins. Bowden is looking to add another starter before the season starts. A baseball source said the Nationals do not have interest in right-hander A.J. Burnett because he has a history of getting hurt.

The Nationals are hoping that right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, the team's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, will join the staff. Zimmermann, a second-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, went a combined 10-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 25 games with Double-A Harrisburg and Class A Potomac this year. He led the Washington chain in ERA and strikeouts (134), and finished tied for first in wins.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.