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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.