It’s no secret the Washington Nationals have entertained the idea of trading left-handed starting pitcher John Lannan this spring. The Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels have all been tied to Lannan lately, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com isn’t sure how serious the trio’s interest in Washington’s $5 million fifth starter truly is.
Heyman tweeted yesterday that the Tigers interest in Lannan is “lukewarm at best”. An unnamed baseball executive told Heyman that American League teams are “leery” of Lannan, as they aren’t sure what a league switch would do to him.
It’s generally understood that pitches have it better in the National League. There’s no DH to worry about, and you get to pitch to your counterpart who usually accounts for an easy out.
Teams are always wary of how pitchers will transition from one league to the other. They will be facing a new batch of hitters and will be regularly pitching in relatively new environments. Add in the change in degree of lineup difficulty going from the NL to the AL, and you can understand why some clubs might hesitate on a pitcher such as Lannan.
If you strictly look at ERA and innings pitched, Lannan appears to be an average to above average pitcher. He’s finished with sub-4.00 season ERA’s and 180-plus innings pitched in three of the past four years.
However, Lannan’s career WHIP (1.423) and strike out numbers (4.7 SO/9) aren’t pretty and he allows his fair share of hits (9.4). This has led to Lannan’s career xFIP (4.45) being nearly a half a run higher than his career ERA (4.00).
Washington has already said that it’s not looking to give Lannan away or simply move his $5 million salary. For this reason, AL teams such as the Tigers, Red Sox and Angels may prefer to go with in-house options rather than trade anything of value for Lannan and his underwhelming totals.
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