With the sudden logjam in the Nationals’ starting rotation, the general consensus is that the Nats will look to trade John Lannan sometime during Spring Training. Though his serviceable arm is no longer need with the Nats, Lannan may not draw as much return as some would hope.
The 27 year-old Long Beach, N.Y. native was drafted in the 11th round of the 2005 MLB draft. He has spent the last five seasons with the Nats, and if his career could be described in one word, it would be “inconsistent.”
Lannan’s ERA has varied from 3.70 (in 2011) to 4.65 (2010) with a minor-league stint in between. He hasn’t been terrible, but hasn’t been particularly good either. What teams may view as most important: he needed a wake-up call in 2010. Teams won’t want to give up value for a player who may or may not show up on any given day.
That being said, there is also his contract to consider. Lannan’s salary will nearly double from the $2.75 million he was paid in 2011 to the $5 million he will be paid in 2012. Coming off of his best season statistically, Lannan was able to cash in maybe a little more than his body of work has earned.
A team could bet on Lannan’s desire to prove himself in a contract year, as he will become arbitration eligible again after 2012 and will become a free agent after 2013.
Lannan could get the Nats a bench player or some mid-level draft pics. A deal involving Lannan probably won’t change anything for the Nats general plan, and anything the Nats get in return won’t be a game-changer.
What may make a difference is if Lannan is packaged with someone in the bullpen. The Nats will have Ross Detwiler as well at their disposal, and his need has become somewhat obsolete as well. If there is one thing the Nats have, it’s a relief staff. The right package could give good return.
What could also happen is Lannan could be moved to the bullpen. The Nats may want to move him to the bullpen and make Detwiler part of a package with another reliever, since Detwiler is younger and teams may think he has more potential upside.
One thing is certain: the Nats have a lot of pitchers and a lot of flexibility. I would be surprised if there was no move during Spring Training, which is mercifully not far away.