Barring a last-minute deal that neither side expects to happen, Chien-Ming Wang will hit the open market later tonight.
The veteran right-hander is one of eight recently declared free agents on the Nationals roster who will be free to negotiate with other clubs when the clock strikes midnight. Wang is joined by fellow right-handers Livan Hernandez and Todd Coffey, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, infielder Alex Cora and outfielders Laynce Nix, Rick Ankiel and Jonny Gomes.
That said, Wang still is expected to re-sign with the Nationals at some point in the near future, according to a club source.
The Nats have been hoping to retain Wang, who after spending two years recovering from major shoulder surgery went 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts in August and September. The Taiwanese native expressed his desire to remain loyal to the Nationals at the end of the season, and general manager Mike Rizzo said last week he still hopes to come to terms with Wang on a new contract, though nothing was imminent.
The two sides are merely ironing out details of a contract that will likely include a number of incentives, the source said. Wang's 2011 salary was $1 million, but his deal included up to $4 million in incentives based on games started.
Wang is currently in Taiwan pitching for his native country's national team against a team of MLB players that includes fellow Nationals Michael Morse, Ross Detwiler and Collin Balester.
The Nationals are less likely to bring back their other free agents, though Hernandez could return if he's willing to take a pay cut and probably accept a lesser role (perhaps as a long reliever).
Washington could have interest in keeping one of the three outfielders, though any one of the would probably have to come off the bench after making regular starts this season.