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John Lannan wants a trade, but do any teams want him?

Apr 5, 2012, 12:46 PM EDT

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John Lannan requested a trade after the Nationals surprisingly optioned the veteran left-hander and his $5 million salary to Triple-A.

Lannan certainly has every reason to be upset about the decision considering he threw 185 innings with a 3.70 ERA in the majors last season, but if put in general manager Mike Rizzo’s shoes my reaction probably would have been something like: “Believe me, if we could have traded you for anything decent we’d have done it months ago.”

Rizzo’s actual response was much nicer, but basically conveyed the same message, as he told reporters that trade interest in Lannan is “mild” and the trade request won’t change the team’s plans.

Lannan is an example of teams looking beyond ERA when evaluating a pitcher, as his solid-looking 4.00 career mark comes attached to underwhelming raw stuff, one of the worst strikeout rates in baseball, and sub par control.

He’s a relatively durable 27-year-old, left-handed starter who’s never had an ERA worse than 4.65 in five seasons, yet the Nationals unsuccessfully shopped him all offseason, still can’t find a taker willing to give up much of anything for him, and have done everything they can to avoid simply leaving him in the rotation.

  1. deathmonkey41 - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Wouldn’t they just be happy to dump his salary at this point? Even if that means just getting a couple of fringe prospects in return? Why would you want someone making 5 mil on your minor league team?

    • dcfan4life - Apr 6, 2012 at 2:19 AM

      He is getting $5 million no matter what since baseball contracts are fully guarenteed, and some of the Nationals starters have had injury issues. Best to keep him and plug him if someone goes down until they can trade him. One major injury to a solid teams starter and he will be traded.

  2. delsj - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I don’t think they are trying hard at all to move him. Have they given the agent permission to seek a trade? They have a young staff with an ace who hasn’t pitched a full season yet. I think they are stringing him along as a $5M Strasburg insurance policy.

    • stex52 - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      Filed under the general heading of “you can’t have too much starting pitching.” First injury that comes along, he’s a pretty solid #5.

    • natstowngreg - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Whatever Rizzo says about the trade market, he had to be thinking about rotation depth. Not just Strasburg’s innings limit. It’s also about whether Wang can contribute full-time, and Detwiler is ready to step up into the rotation. Meanwhile, to get Gio Gonzalez, Rizzo traded the next two starters in the queue, Brad Peacock and Tom Milone.

      I feel for Lannan. He’s always struck me as a good guy, and he’s gone out there and done the best he can with his limited gifts. However, this is about improving the team for the longer term, and a decision had to be made. If John ends up somewhere else, I’ll wish him well.

  3. madhatternalice - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Wouldn’t he immediately be the best pitcher on the Orioles?

    • DJ MC - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      Only if you solely look at ERA. Which is kind-of the point of the post.

  4. hasbeen5 - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    A Nats castoff? The Braves will trade Uggla for him by midnight.

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