You knew it was coming. A day after the Washington Nationals announced they were optioning starting pitcher John Lannan to Triple-A, the 27-year-old has requested a trade. In an email to the press Lannan said that he believes he belongs in a major league rotation and that a trade would be best for everyone involved.
Word of Lannan’s demotion surfaced Tuesday evening, and soon after the Nationals confirmed that former first round pick Ross Detwiler will be their fifth starter entering the season. Detwiler outperformed Lannan this spring, but Lannan is owed $5 million in 2012 and has been an Opening Day starter for the Nationals on two occasions, logging at least 182 innings in three of the past four years.
It was because of Lannan’s hefty price tag that many assumed the veteran would be dealt before Opening Day. Washington acquired Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez this offseason, additions that pushed Lannan down to the bottom of the Nationals projected rotation. Teams don’t generally pay their fifth starter $5 million, but teams also don’t generally pay a pitcher that sum to play for one of their minor league affiliates.
It was also reported Tuesday that the Nationals asked too much in return for Lannan.
Bill Ladson of MLB.com is reporting that, despite the trade request, the Nationals still aren’t close to dealing Lannan. Ladson added that Washington has spoken with at least two thirds of the league regarding Lannan, but that the left-hander’s $5 million salary has been a sticking point. Washington is also continuing to request useful pieces in exchange for Lannan, either prospects or bench players for the 2012 season.
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