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.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”