“Last year, the draft pick was way at the extreme bottom of the first round,” Rizzo said. “It’s a little bit better pick this year. I’d be more reluctant to give a draft pick than I did last year. I would never rule it out. But I’d be more reluctant this year than last year.”

The stance would dilute the Nationals’ interest in free agent starting pitchers who will cost a first-round pick: Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Hiroki Kuroda. It could pique their interest in right-hander Matt Garza, who was traded midseason and therefore could not be given a qualifying offer by the Texas Rangers. The Nationals have previously shown mild interest in trading for Garza.

Rizzo said he felt no intense pressure to add a starter with Ross Detwiler, Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan and Nate Karns able to fill two spots behind Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. Still, it is no secret the Nationals want to upgrade.

If they make a trade for David Price or Max Scherzer, one American League executive said the Nationals would likely need to include infielder Anthony Rendon as the anchor to that deal, reasoning that the Nationals do not possess any other young, controllable pieces that could serve as a centerpiece.

The Nationals would be unwilling to include Rendon in a deal for Scherzer, and it would be difficult for them to move him even for Price, the 2012 Cy Young winner. The Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija would provide an alternative that wouldn’t require giving up Rendon.

“If trading for an upgraded pitcher makes us better, we’ll certainly have to do it,” Rizzo said. “At what price is the question. You go out and get this starting pitcher who’s better than what you got, but will blow away your system in the minor leagues. Is that the way you want to go? You have to weigh the two.”

If the Nationals add to their series of winter splashes, it is easier now to determine what it will not be than what it will. Despite a report to the contrary over the weekend, the Nationals are not considering trading Span. The Nationals have neither made nor received a call from another team about Span. They also do not have interest in would-be possible replacement Jacoby Ellsbury, one of the 13 free agents who will force a team to sacrifice a draft pick.

The Nationals will also not seek to cut ties with Adam LaRoche and upgrade at first base after Laroche’s trying 2013 season. LaRoche struggled as he lost weight, but Rizzo expects him to rebound in the final year of his two-year, $24 million deal. The Nationals, Rizzo said, have checked off first base.

“Adam LaRoche is our first baseman,” Rizzo said. “I think he’s going to bounce back to have one of his career-norm years. That’s the guy we signed, and hopefully that’s the guy we get this year.”