Updated at 4:50 p.m.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- How serious are the Nationals about attempting to lure Cliff Lee to D.C.? Enough to meet in person with the pitcher's agent for the second time this week at the Winter Meetings.
General manager Mike Rizzo met with agent Darek Braunecker this afternoon at the Swan and Dolphin Resort, according to major-league sources familiar with the meeting.
Rizzo, while confirming his strong interest in acquiring Lee, doesn't sound particular confident he'll actually land the prized left-hander.
"I still think we're a real long shot to acquire the player," he said.
It's not known if the Nationals have made a formal offer yet for Lee, who is seeking a mammoth contract that could reach seven years. The Nationals, according to multiple club sources, are adamant that they won't make a seven-year offer to the 32-year-old Lee.
The Nationals, though, haven't disguised their legitimate interest in Lee, far and away the top pitcher on the market. And they've shown a willingness in the past to outbid other clubs for top-tier free agents, including Mark Teixeira, Jayson Werth and Jorge de la Rosa.
Merely outbidding the Yankees, Rangers and others who are in the running for Lee doesn't guarantee a deal. Lee, who has pitched in the World Series each of the last two years, still would have to decide whether to spurn clubs with more immediate hope of winning than a Washington team that hasn't posted a winning season since the franchise arrived in town in 2005.