Nationals demote left-hander John Lannan and his $5 million salary to the minor leagues

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UPDATE: It’s official, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Lannan has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and Detwiler will open the year as the Nationals’ fifth starter.

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At the beginning of spring training John Lannan was rumored to be on the trading block and then when it became clear that Chien-Ming Wang wouldn’t be ready to start the season on the active roster because of a hamstring injury manager Davey Johnson all but named Lannan the Nationals’ fifth starter.

Those plans have apparently changed, as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals will option Lannan to Triple-A and will likely go with Ross Detwiler as their No. 5 starter.

Kilgore calls it a “stunning decision” and it’s easy to see why, as Lannan is a 27-year-old veteran with 751 career innings and makes $5 million. Washington gave him the Opening Day start in both 2009 and 2010, and last season he threw 185 innings with a 3.70 ERA.

Expect the trade speculation surrounding Lannan to ramp up again.

Cubs sign Drew Smyly to a two-year, $10 million contract

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday evening that the club signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the contract is for $10 million total and allows Smyly to earn another $7 million with performance bonuses. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners at the beginning of the month and became a free agent.

Smyly, 28, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June. He’s expected to miss, at minimum, the first half of the 2018 season. The Cubs are hoping he can contribute to a playoff push in the latter half of the season as well as in 2019.

Smyly didn’t pitch at all in 2017. When he was healthy the season prior, he made 30 starts for the Rays and put up a 4.88 ERA and a 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175 1/3 innings.