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


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


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.

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.