CHICAGO -- A day after being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, Nationals left-hander John Lannan sent an email to local reporters Wednesday evening and acknowledged that he requested to be traded.
Lannan's demotion was a surprise. Manager Davey Johnson announced last week that Lannan would be the fifth starter after Chien-Ming Wang strained his left hamstring in mid-March against the Yankees.
But Ross Detwiler outperformed Lannan this spring. Detwiler is now the fifth starter in the rotation. Lannan had a 5.14 ERA, while Detwiler had a 3.16 ERA this spring. Also not in Lannan's favor was that he still had a Minor League option, so he was an easy choice to be sent down.
General manager Mike Rizzo was not available to comment on Lannan's trade request.
I know everyone wants to ask me about yesterday's news, so I wanted to make sure I got back to you.
I am certainly disappointed in the Nationals' decision. I met with Mike Rizzo for the second time since I received the news to tell him exactly how I feel, and my agent has also spoken to Mike. I know what my rights and the team's rights are, and while I am still a member of the Washington Nationals organization, I let Mike know that I believe a trade would be the best solution for everyone in both the short and long term.
I believe that I belong in a big league rotation. I am a proven Major League starting pitcher, with a track record of success.
I appreciate all the opportunities the Nationals organization has given me throughout the years. I've done a lot for this organization through some tough times. I anticipated being part of the team's next exciting chapter. If the Nationals feel they don't need me or want me with the current make-up of the team, I can respect their decision. However, I'm very confident that I am capable of making a meaningful contribution to a Major League team.
This transaction will not change who I am or how I approach my business. I will continue to prepare myself for the season and look forward to the opportunity to pitch for a Major League team in the near future. I appreciate the space that you have given me over the past 24 hours. This will be the last time that I make any public comments on yesterday's transaction or my future with the Nationals' organization. My focus from here on out will be on playing the game that I love and demonstrating the professionalism that I have exhibited throughout my career.
Thank you again for your patience since yesterday's announcement.
The Nationals have tried hard to trade Lannan since the Winter Meetings last December. According to a baseball source, members of the Nats' front office believe that Lannan has reached his peak as a pitcher.
According to another baseball source, the club has talked to at least 20 teams about Lannan. The Nationals have had conversations with the Angels, Orioles, Red Sox and Tigers. The Nats, who want prospects or bench players in return, have not come close to making a deal for Lannan.
A lot of teams do not want to deal with Lannan's $5 million salary, and the Nationals are not willing to eat the salary. Rizzo already has said that he will not give Lannan away. So the chances of Lannan being traded are slim -- at best.