It was moderately shocking this spring when the Washington Nationals sent John Lannan to the minor leagues before Opening Day. After all, Lannan had been their Opening Day starter in both 2009 and '10, and their No. 2 starter in 2011. Also, he's earning $5 million this season. It's not often that a club pays someone $5 million to retire AAA hitters.
But demote Lannan they did. And when they decided to shift Ross Detwiler from the rotation to the bullpen, they left Lannan with triple-A Syracuse and handed Detwiler's spot to Chien-Ming Wang. Lannan hasn't exactly helped his case in the minors, either; after entering this season with a 4.00 career ERA in 128 major-league starts -- all with the Nationals -- Lannan's got a 5.62 mark with Syracuse this spring.
Yet with all of that, Lannan might not remain the International League's best-paid hurler. Because according to Ken Rosenthal, some other clubs have real interest in trading for Lannan:
The Nationals want any club that acquires Lannan to pay the rest of his remaining salary and part with at least one legitimate player, sources say.
Lannan, 27, is owed just under $3.5 million of his $5 million salary. He is again eligible for arbitration in 2013, and then will become a free agent.
The Rockies "kicked the tires" on Lannan but were turned off by the price, while talks between the Dodgers and Nationals have been only preliminary, sources say.
One can imagine some other club paying Lannan's salary. One can imagine some other club forking over a "legitimate" player. One can imagine some other club doing one of those things, especially if Lannan puts together a few good starts in a row.
One can't easily imagine some other club doing both of those things.