The sting from the wrenching, bitter end of the Washington Nationals' first playoff run may have faded for some by the dead of winter, but not, apparently, for the man at the very top of the organization, not for the 87-year-old real estate tycoon who grew up in Washington rooting for the Senators.

And so, less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to Viera, Fla., Ted Lerner acted. On Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the situation, the Nationals agreed to terms with free agent closer Rafael Soriano, a surprising, blockbuster addition to a now-stacked bullpen that signals the Nationals' urgency to win a World Series this year.

The sides came to terms on a two-year, $28 million contract, which makes Soriano the highest paid reliever in baseball during the 2013 season. The contract also includes a $14 million option for 2015 that will vest if Soriano finishes 120 games combined over the next two seasons.

Lerner, one person familiar with the situation said, was directly involved in the negotiations that brought Soriano to Washington. He was surely motivated by the memory of the final game of last season, when the Nationals allowed a six-run lead to evaporate in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, leaving stunned silence at Nationals Park and bone-dry plastic sheets rolled up over lockers inside the home clubhouse.

The bullpen let that lead slip away, slowly at first and then suddenly in the four-run ninth inning, when a two-run cushion disappeared in a 9-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nationals added Soriano, 33, to a solid-but-not-great bullpen with the express intent of preventing another pivotal, late-game meltdown.

The New York Yankees, Soriano's team in 2012, gave him a one-year qualifying offer, which means the Nationals will forfeit their first-round pick — No. 29 overall — and the bonus pool money attached to the selection. For General Manager Mike Rizzo, a former scouting director who calls draft day "my Super Bowl," the surrender of a pick shows the seriousness of the Nationals' emerging win-now mentality.

Soriano's addition bolsters the back of a bullpen that already includes incumbent closer Drew Storen — the man on the mound for the ninth inning of Game 5 — and 2011 all-star setup man Tyler Clippard, who saved 32 games last year. Soriano will presumably enter the 2013 season as the clear-cut top choice at closer, but there will likely still be some save chances for Storen.