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.
Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.
While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.
Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.
Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.
Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.
The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.