John Lannan requested a trade after the Nationals surprisingly optioned the veteran left-hander and his $5 million salary to Triple-A.
Lannan certainly has every reason to be upset about the decision considering he threw 185 innings with a 3.70 ERA in the majors last season, but if put in general manager Mike Rizzo’s shoes my reaction probably would have been something like: “Believe me, if we could have traded you for anything decent we’d have done it months ago.”
Rizzo’s actual response was much nicer, but basically conveyed the same message, as he told reporters that trade interest in Lannan is “mild” and the trade request won’t change the team’s plans.
Lannan is an example of teams looking beyond ERA when evaluating a pitcher, as his solid-looking 4.00 career mark comes attached to underwhelming raw stuff, one of the worst strikeout rates in baseball, and sub par control.
He’s a relatively durable 27-year-old, left-handed starter who’s never had an ERA worse than 4.65 in five seasons, yet the Nationals unsuccessfully shopped him all offseason, still can’t find a taker willing to give up much of anything for him, and have done everything they can to avoid simply leaving him in the rotation.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.