Nationals Trying To Trade John Lannan

Well, it looks like we finally have an aggressive suitor for Edwin Jackson. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Nationals are trying to trade John Lannan – who just lost his arbitration case and will earn $5 million in 2012 – in order to clear salary to make a run at signing Jackson.

If the Nationals can pull this off, it’d be a pretty neat trick. When you look at Lannan and Jackson side by side, this would be a pretty massive improvement for the team. Over the last three seasons, Jackson has posted an ERA- of 93, supported by quality peripherals, while Lannan has posted an ERA- of 101, a good bit better than his FIP/xFIP would suggest is sustainable. Jackson’s also thrown an additional 100 innings, so he’s provided better performance in a larger sample.

Even if you think Lannan possesses an ability to regularly beat his FIP, Jackson is roughly a +1 win upgrade. If you think that Lannan is about to run out of pixie dust and his run prevention is due for a regression, the upgrade is more like +2 wins. Given that the Nationals are on the contender-or-not bubble, those wins could have a lot of value to the team, and swapping out Lannan for Jackson would be a no-brainer.

The tough part might be finding someone who wants to take Lannan off their hands at this point in the off-season. Most teams are shopping in the bargain bin now, and there aren’t many clubs left with much in the way of budget room. They probably could have moved him a few months ago, but salary dumps in February aren’t easy. It’s an idea worth trying, but they might have to eat a little bit of money in order to convince someone to take him.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


47 Responses to “Nationals Trying To Trade John Lannan”

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  1. Ryan Carey says:

    Interesting. Personally I hope Lannan is traded but more because it gets Ross Detwiler one step closer to locking down a spot in the rotation (even if EJAX is signed)

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  2. Lucas says:

    why not just sign Jackson anyway and try to trade Lannan at the deadline?

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  3. JT says:

    Hopefully it’s not to the Reds, as I can’t imagine a Lannan/Chapman meeting going well

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  4. Lucas says:

    John Heyman just tweeted the Nats agreed with Jackson. pending physical.

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    • Ben says:

      Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gio, and Jackson is a SOLID first four. Doesn’t much matter which of Lannan, Wang, Gorzellany, or Detweiler is #5.

      Nats are for real this year.

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      • Eugene in Oregon says:

        Better to say: “The Nats rotation is for real this year.” The problem will be that they still have to score some runs.

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      • Ben says:

        Well they’re not the 27 Yankees, but the only true offensive sinkhole in the line up is CF. SS could also stand to improve, but they are average or better everywhere else.

        I won’t anointing them NL East champs just yet, but they are absolutely contenders. Today.

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      • West says:

        They were 80-81 with injuries to Zimmermann Zimmerman and Strasburg. They should compete with the Braves and Marlins for the wild card.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        and phillies for the wild card. Phillies are ancient and should get collectively worse, Howard will probably be a disaster, lee and halladay are older (especially halladay), either could see a sharp decline, they don’t have as much pitching depth either. To me the NL East is pretty wide open. If I were to give a % chance for each team winning, it’d probably be PHI at 45%, ATL at 30%, WAS at 15%, MIA at 10%. To me the Phillies aren’t a sure thing at all considering how much better ATL (generally young, Uggla probably won’t suck for 4 months and Heyward should be better, plus I expect them to trade for a big bat), WAS, and MIA got. PHI didn’t really get much better at all and really likely got worse given their age.

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      • bstar says:

        I sure hope you’re right, Antonio, about that big bat coming. Please, Mr. Wren, make it happen.

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  5. David says:

    We live in a world where Dan Haren was once traded for Joe Saunders (et al). Anything is possible!

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    • Matty Brown says:

      that trade did seem absurd, but Tyler Skaggs is a quality prospect and appears to be at worst a strong #3 starter.

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      • Justin says:

        #3? Are you just trying to avoid any possible bashing from anyone? The guy is as sure of thing to be a #1 as anyone not named Shelby.

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  6. Vin says:

    Lannan could actually have decent trade value for a team that needs rotation help. Nats should probably target outfielders, like maybe Lorenzo Cain from the Royals or Ryan Sweeney from the Red Sox.

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    • Will says:

      Agreed. It seems like Jayson Werth is going to be the Nats starting CF in 2012, so it’s not necessary to acquire a CF. Just some sort of stop-gap RF until Harper is ready.

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      • Vin says:

        I was thinking that the names I mentioned would be viable options in CF themselves, allowing Werth to stay in his natural position.

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      • Will says:

        Oh yeah I agree. I was just pointing out the Nats have a little bit of flexibility there. A CF would be ideal, but they aren’t limited to that.

        Furthermore, unless Werth moves to CF at some point this season, there’s going to be a logjam of corner OF/1B types between Werth, Morse, LaRoche and Harper.

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    • Neal H. says:

      Gorkys Hernandez going once… going twice…

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    • ODawg says:

      Ugh, Lannan in the AL East? Hello, Jeff Suppan.

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  7. KKSC says:

    How can you initially state that Lannan consistently outperforms his FIP, but then go on to say Jackson’s worth 1+ win more? WAR is based off of FIP, and if he consistently outperforms that, then using WAR to judge Lannan’s value is silly.

    When healthy, both are similar in terms of production. However, Jackson’s been proven to be more durable, so it gives him the edge. Remember, ERA is what happened, and if you’re looking back three years, then ERA is much better to use than FIP, if talking performance. If you want to use FIP to say that Jackson has more upside than Lannan at this point, than sure, I’d agree with you.

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    • DCN says:

      Yeah I’m with you there. Stats derived from FIP aren’t the best metrics for players who consistently beat FIP (e.g. Lannan, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine).

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      • will h says:

        using RA jackson is 27 points better over the last three years… huge difference. lannan is an unearned run machine just as cosistently as he beats fip. also jackson isnt just healthier, he throws way more ip per gs

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Read the post again. +1 WAR is the difference if you believe that ERA is the true talent difference, +2 WAR is the difference if you believe that FIP is more correct about the future.

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    • bstar says:

      Simple. Stop using FIP to determine WAR. FIP was meant to be a predictive stat about future ERA, not a be-all-end-all stat to define a player’s career.

      For whatever reason, the Braves could never solve Lannan, so I’ll be glad if he leaves the NL East.

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      • Andre says:

        You misunderstand FIP.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        FIP is inferior to tERA. You can’t control exactly where a ball is hit, but your stuff dictates how hard it’s hit and you CAN do a pretty good job at controlling if it’s in the air or on the ground. It’s why tERA is a better stat. FIP is pretty good at predicting the future, I don’t see it as very good at describing what happened.

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      • bstar says:

        i understand it perfectly. If you’re defending it as a stat to determine WAR, perhaps the misunderstanding lies with you.

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  8. thomkay07 says:

    John Lannan for Lorenzo Cain, Vin? I seriously doubt they could make that happen. The Nats will probably find a team that’s willing to spend $3-4M to upgrade their fourth or fifth spot for one year. If the Nats do eat $1-2M, they might be able to land a couple promising AA prospects.

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  9. Stark Naked Dad says:

    Would Lannan for Parra make sense?

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    • TJ says:

      I don’t see why Arizona would do that, though. And I’m not all that sure the D-backs have the financial room to add Lannan’s deal without Washington eating 2/3 million (at least).

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  10. Stark Naked Dad says:

    What about Lannan for Colvin or Fowler?

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    • TJ says:

      Fowler might make some sense for the Nats, but I have high doubts the Rockies would go for that. Don’t think Colvin makes a ton of sense for the Nats – doesn’t fit an offensive need (assuming that he bounces back) and defensively, has a similar profile to roughly a Jayson Werth type.

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  11. pft says:

    Lannan is effective against LHB’ers and would probably be effective out of the pen and provide good starting pitching depth with Wang an injury waiting to happen, Strasburg on an innings limit and Zimmerman having never thrown more than 161 IP.

    If the Nats don’t contend, they can trade Jackson at the deadline and pick up a couple of prospects and dump almost half his salary. I see no need to trade Lannan, especially if you expect to get nothing in return and need to eat salary.

    Nats have MASN resetting their contract, so more TV revenue dollars are on the way. They were in on Fielder, so the money is there.

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  12. Antonio Bananas says:

    Is the only reason they’re trading Lannon because of how much he’s making? To me, Lannon is their best bet as a 5th starter. Detwiler is basically Lannan with his 3ish BB/9 and 5ish K/9, the difference is Lannan has piched more innings and has been pretty consistent about it. Wang sucks and can’t stay consistent. With Stras/Gio/Zimmermann/Jackson/Lannan you have guys who are either a pretty sure thing to throw a decent amount of innings or guys who are no hitters waiting to happen. Take Lannan out and you have a questionable 5th spot with guys who haven’t done it yet. It’s not bad without Lannan and maybe they can get more value for their team if they trade him. Just saying that if I were the Nats, I’d be pretty happy with what I have.

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    • jerbear1985 says:

      Wang was coming back from injury, give him a break. Not to mention that Detwiler is younger and significantly cheaper while getting similar production. If they can use the money that Lannan eats up for some kind of offensive upgrade, they’ll do it.

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