Nationals showing “heavy interest” in Javier Vazquez

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The Nationals have a loaded starting rotation in Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler.

But they’re thinking about adding some depth.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Washington front office is beginning to show “heavy interest” in free agent right-hander Javier Vazquez, who is said to be considering a return to the major leagues after sitting out for the entire 2012 season.

Nightengale says the scouts who have watched Vazquez pitch in the Puerto Rican Winter League are “raving” about him. The 36-year-old is reportedly hitting 95 mph with his fastball with some regularity.

Vazquez posted a strong 3.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 162/50 K/BB ratio across 192 2/3 innings (32 starts) in 2011 for the Marlins. He’s expected to wait until after the World Baseball Classic to sign with a team.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.