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Nationals showing interest in star Rays righthander James Shields

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals have talked to the Rays about trades for star pitcher James Shields, though the status of those talks is uncertain now.

The Nats see Shields as a cost-effective alternative to Zack Greinke. The Nats have been seen as a potential for Greinke, but Shields' salary is more manageable.

"The Dodgers are scaring teams away," one National League executive said referring to the high price people around the game are expecting the Dodgers to offer Greinke.

The Red Sox, Dodgers, Royals and several other teams are interested in Shields.

The Rays were showing interest in Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa, as Jim Bowden from Sirius/XM reported Sunday. The Rays earlier added James Loney with an agreement, but they need multiple position upgrades.

The Rays have starting-pitching depth to trade, though the price tag is understandably high on Shields, an ace who can complete games. Jeremy Hellickson also has received interest.

Two potential issues for the trade are that the Nationals haven't yet re-signed Adam LaRoche, so Morse is needed for first base, and Espinosa isn't someone they are looking to move. He is an excellent defender at second, with power. If they did trade Espinosa, they'd use Steve Lombardozzi at second base.

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