With the start of the regular season approaching, trade talk figures to pick up again after its brief hiatus. Teams with out-of-option players and others looking to cut salary will be shopping those they consider expendable. One such player is likely to be Washington Nationals starting pitcher John Lannan. Trade rumors have been swirling around Lannan since the Nationals signed free agent right-hander Edwin Jackson. Now, within a month of Opening Day, Jim Bowden of ESPN and Nick Carfado of the Boston Globe are reporting that the Nationals are taking offers for their pricey fifth starter.
With the addition of Jackson, the Nationals are prepared to enter the season with a starting four of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Jackson. Lannan would fall into the fifth and final slot, but would costly in that role with his $5 million price tag.
However, it’s not a given that Lannan winds up with the fifth starter role. The Nationals are said to favor handing the spot over to veteran Chien-Ming Wang and deal Lannan. Carfado said the Nationals are “dangling” Lannan, while Bowden reported the club isn’t “desperate to trade him”. Bowden added that the Red Sox have made an offer for Lannan, though the former major league general manager said it “wasn’t close”.
The Red Sox have recently been tied to Roy Oswalt and their rumored interest in Lannan seems to indicate that the club is looking for more of a sure thing for the back end of its rotation. Low-cost, high-reward arms sound good in theory and are easy on the checkbook, but it doesn’t seem as if any of Ben Cherington’s less expensive alternatives are blowing him away.
While the Nationals likely aren’t desperate to deal Lannan, they certainly don’t want to be paying their fifth starter $5 million. Washington will likely deal Lannan and go with Wang, especially if they are able to acquire a center fielder in the trade.