Progress on the search for a lefty, plus Maya note

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Nationals are making progress in their search for a left-handed reliever, a source confirmed, and it appears possible that they could leave the Winter Meetings with their one remaining major offseason need filled.

That said, the source cautioned a bit ago that there is "nothing imminent" at this point.

There are a host of left-handers available both via the free agent and trade markets, and the Nationals have been linked to quite a few of them over the last few weeks.

Here at the Winter Meetings, Scott Downs, Eric O'Flaherty, Boone Logan and J.P. Howell have been discussed, and a few trade candidates have emerged, as well, including the Pirates' Justin Wilson and the Athletics' Jerry Blevins.

Blevins is considered the more likely of the two trade options because Wilson is younger, controllable and inexpensive.

I talked to one official familiar with the Nationals' thinking who doesn't see them ending up with Howell or Wilson, but one of the quote-unquote lower-tier southpaws, like Downs, Logan or Blevins.

We shall see, however. Things can change quickly this time of year.

Meanwhile, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com is reporting that former Nationals right-hander Yunesky Maya has signed a minor league deal with the Braves with an invitation to big league spring training.

Maya went 1-5 with a 5.80 ERA in 16 big league games (10 starts) in his Nationals tenure. Signed to a four-year, $6 million contract in 2010 and lauded as a key international signing, Maya was a big disappointment with the Nats and was released earlier this offseason.

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