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John Lannan was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse yesterday.
"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," Lannan wrote in an email sent to beat reporters.
Lannan, 27, had been tabbed by manager Davey Johnson last week as the club's No. 5 starter, taking the spot that opened up when veteran Chien-Ming Wang suffered a hamstring injury. But two days before their season opener against the Cubs, the Nationals reversed course and named left-hander Ross Detwiler as the final member of their rotation, optioning Lannan to Class AAA Syracuse in the process.
Lannan, who started for the Nationals on Opening Day in 2009 and 2010 and last year led the staff with 10 wins and 184 2/3 innings pitched, is making $5 million in his second season of arbitration eligibility. The combination of his salary, uninspiring career record of 38-51 and understanding around the baseball world of the Nationals' predicament has tempered his trade value.
Asked yesterday about the market for Lannan, Rizzo said there had been "mild interest" from other clubs over the course of the spring.
Lannan was informed of his demotion by Johnson during the third inning of the Nationals' exhibition finale against the Red Sox, then departed Nationals Park before reporters were allowed in at the end of the game.
In his emailed statement this evening, the 2005 draft pick said he's met twice with Rizzo since the announcement. His agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, has also spoken to Rizzo, reiterating his client's desire to pitch for another organization willing to put him in the major leagues.
"I believe that I belong in a big-league rotation," Lannan wrote. "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 on 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."
In announcing the demotion, the Nationals said Lannan would be on the mound tomorrow for Syracuse's season opener against Rochester. Lannan, though, said he's scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow and then start Sunday for the Chiefs.
"This transaction will not change who I am or how I approach my business," Lannan wrote. "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."