March 05, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher John Lannan (31) during spring training against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE
In a Q&A with readers on Sunday in an article entitled, "Inbox: Lombardozzi to play in Nats' outfield?", MLB.com's Bill Ladson maintained, as he has since Edwin Jackson signed with Washington, that he believes, 27-year-old Nationals' lefty John Lannan, "... will be traded before Opening Day." The '05 11th Round pick and veteran of five major league seasons pitching in the nation's capital is thought to be on the outside looking in as the Nats appear likely to go with an Opening Day rotation that features Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Chien-Ming Wang. Ross Detwiler, 25 and an '07 1st Round pick, Mr. Ladson writes in speculating about how the situation will play out this Spring, "... who is out of Minor League options, will become one of the long relievers out of the bullpen." The Nationals beat writer for MLB.com wasn't the only one talking about Lannan being available on Sunday...
Former Nats' GM Jim Bowden took to Twitter (@JimBowdenESPNxm) Sunday afternoon to report what he's hearing about the team he worked for from '04 through the beginning of the 2009 campaign, and he's another reporter hearing that Washington's rotation looks set. "Nationals rotation looks to be Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Jackson, Wang [with] Lannan & Detwiler in bullpen," the former baseball executive writes. The Nats, Bowden says in a follow-up, are, "... listening to teams on Lannan but don't have to trade him because of $ if they don't get what they want back...Red Sox offer not close." What Red Sox offer? Good question.
Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo doesn't provide any insight into what the Red Sox might have offered in return for Lannan, but he did write Sunday morning in his weekly "Sunday Baseball Notes" column that he's hearing that Lannan is, in fact, available. "The Nationals have spread the word, according to multiple baseball sources, that he is available in a deal," Mr. Cafardo wrote, "particularly one for a center fielder." In another section of his article, the Boston Globe baseball writer says there's a, "... minority sentiment in the [Nats'] organization," that wants to see Bryce Harper moved to center instead of putting Werth there since Jayson Werth's such a strong right fielder. "Why move a guy to a position where he’d be inferior?" Mr. Cafardo asks.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote last week that his sources were telling him they, "... would not be surprised if Lannan was traded for prospects," before Opening Day and he also reported that the Nationals had talked to the Houston Astros about 30-year-old outfielder Jason Bourgeois though Mr. Ladson noted in the article entitled, "Nats have talked to Astros about Bourgeois", that one source told him, "the two clubs are not close to a deal," while another source said, "... it's no more than 50-50 that the Nationals will get the center fielder they are looking for," with Werth currently the leading candidate to fill that role at the start of the season if no other outfielder is acquired.
MLB Network Radio host and ESPN analyst Jim Bowden too wrote on Twitter this weekend that the, "Nationals have previously inquired about the availability of Pirates CF Starling Marte," (a 23-year-old Pirates' prospect signed out of the Dominican Republic who finished the 2011 season at Double-A Atloona with a .332/.370/.500 line, 38 doubles, eight triples, 12 HR's and 24 stolen bases in 129 games and 572 plate appearances), but the Nats, "were told he's not available," Mr. Bowden wrote, adding, "can't blame them." Whether he means "can't blame" the Nationals for asking or the Pirates for saying no is unclear? Probably both.
So anonymous sources say that Nats' GM Mike Rizzo's still looking for a center field solution. One player sources are saying won't be in the Nationals' Opening Day outfieler, however, is Bryce Harper. "Both the Angels and Nats are going to do the right thing by starting Trout and Harper at AAA to start the season," Mr. Bowden wrote Sunday on Twitter, "both need more time." And CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman wrote that he too was hearing that, "Despite Davey [Johnson's] desires, strong speculation is Bryce Harper will begin season in minors, w/ mid-year callup hoped for." Harper is reportedly close to returning to action after a calf strain sidelined him last week. Harper will be a part of the Nationals' outfield at some point this season. Who'll be starting in the Opening Day outfield hasn't yet been determined?