Last year, John Lannan threw 184 innings and finished with a 3.70 ERA. Since joining the Nationals' rotation full-time in 2008, Lannan has thrown 716 innings with a 103 ERA+. He's been valuable and productive for the Nationals, who didn't have a lot of reliable starting pitching in those years. His reward was a trip this spring to the minor leagues.
When you put it like that, you can see how a fella would be ticked. Lannan requested a trade, which seems perfectly reasonable for a veteran in his situation.
Lannan actually had his best start of the year on Wednesday night, going seven full innings, allowing four walks, eight hits, and four runs. He got the win, too, with the help of six RBI from Mark Teahen. That's a sentence you weren't expecting to read today.
There's still a chance for Lannan to be traded; those 716 major-league innings almost certainly mean more than the 19 minor-league innings. But considering that he's making $5 million this season, he isn't exactly facilitating a trade.
Full disclosure: I'm somewhat obsessed with the Nationals trading for Marlon Byrd. I shouldn't even care, but the fit is so danged obvious. The Cubs have a great center-field prospect in the upper minors; the Nationals have a Roger Bernadina-sized hole in center; Byrd makes enough to make a difference for a team that might not need him, but not enough to be prohibitive for a team that could really use him.
It makes so much sense that it makes me feel stupid each day it doesn't happen, as if I'm missing something completely obvious.
Still on the lookout for pitching help in particular, the Cubs, according to a major-league source, inquired again about Washington Nationals left-hander John Lannan, who asked for a trade after being sent to the minors this week when he lost the Nats’ fifth-starter job to Ross Detwiler.
The article then goes on to note that Marlon Byrd is part of those discussions. Finally.
Of course, I was thinking the trade would be something more like a mid-level prospect for Byrd, and I'm not sure exactly what the Cubs would want with Lannan. He's a free agent after the 2013 season, so unless the Cubs' rebuilding plan has them contending in 2013 (which it might, I guess), Lannan probably isn't going to do much but gently nudge them away from the orbit of 75 wins.
The important part of this, though, is that the Nationals are talking Marlon Byrd. In retrospect, if they traded for Byrd instead of signed Edwin Jackson, they'd have an extra $3 million and a happy John Lannan in the rotation. They might be a better team.
Lannan (or perhaps his agent) wrote an extensive e-mail, which was released to the public; you can read the whole thing in Zuckerman's story. He's not demanding a trade, perhaps because he's not in any position to demand a trade. He's going to report to the Nationals' triple-A Syracuse affiliate, and start for that club on Sunday.
But you can't blame him for wanting to pitch in the majors. And he might be there tomorrow -- with the Nationals, or some other club -- if not for his 1.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Even for a ground-ball pitcher like Lannan, that's a little scary. He would make a perfectly good fourth or fifth starter for many clubs, but the Nationals just have better options at the moment, with No. 5 starter Ross Detwiler perhaps having more upside than Lannan.