Cubs interested in John Lannan, may deal Marlon Byrd

Cubs interested in John Lannan, may deal Marlon Byrd

According to Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs have not settled on their roster quite yet.

‘‘There’s opportunity out there the first week of the season for teams that are willing to tinker a little bit because a lot of players go through waivers, and you can get some players through waivers,’’ Theo said. ‘‘Once we get a few days into the season, we’ll be set and have some stability.’’

One player of interest is Nationals LH starting pitcher John Lannan.  This was first speculated on by our own Tom Loxas a few weeks back.  Lannan has requested a trade after being demoted to AAA to make room on the roster.  The Cubs are in search of a LH pitcher, but it's assumed they are more interested in a bullpen arm.

Lannan has only had marginal success as a starter and project more as a #4 or #5 guy and the Cubs do seem set on their rotation, so I'm not sure what the thinking is here unless they plan on converting him to a RP.

The Cubs have some concerns about their bullpen and the Opening Day fiasco did nothing to allay those fears.  At the very least, Lannan would give them another good arm and some flexibility.

The player that matches up in terms of salary and need for Washington is Cubs CF Marlon Byrd.  It's been mentioned on this site in the recent past that the Cubs were taking a lot of calls on Byrd with the Nationals being prominent among those teams.

Lannan gives the Cubs an extra year of cost control over Byrd.  He is arbitration eligible next year before becoming a free agent. Still, I'm not sure you can consider it value if you're going to pay a lefty reliever $5M, so to get real value, he has to start and there isn't any more room for him in the Cubs rotation than there is in the Nats'.

The alternative would be that the Nats have to pitch in some money and/or a good prospect to balance it out as they would clearly be getting the better player and the better value in such a deal.

As for CF, the Cubs have Brett Jackson waiting in the wings but he may not get called up right away.  That distinction might go to speedster Tony Campana who electrified the Iowa crowd with his baserunning last night.  With the Cubs likely to struggle to scratch out runs, they can probably use a guy who can steal a base and score from 2nd on an infield single, as he did in yesterday's game.

Whatever the Cubs case, it's clear the Cubs roster isn't set at this point.  We can expect quite a few moves throughout the season, and apparently, maybe some as soon as this week.


Filed under: Rumors


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  • sounds like you are coming over to the Campana camp?

  • In reply to Cliffy46405:

    I'm never against Campana, unless it's as a starter but I do understand why the Cubs would keep Reed Johnson given the makeup of their team. Had they known Mather was going to have a great camp, however, I'm not sure they would have resigned Johnson. If RJ has another good year off the bench, though, he could provide some trade value when he becomes eligible.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not sure anyone wants Reed or will want him in the future. As for Campy, and I will call him that forever because I can, yes he can run. He can't hit, which isn't a dealbreaker for me, but he also cannot field. I wish he could.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    Campy is a 25th man for me, strictly a niche player -- but it's a very useful niche at least. Agree on his fielding. Can fly but doesn't get great jumps and his arm is below average. Saw Byrd get an excellent jump yesterday on a ball in the gap and I'm thinking, man if Campana could do that the Cubs would never give up any gappers!

    As for Johnson, he did get some inquiries last year. Hits lefties well and is a good defender. Can play a role for someone. I think the Braves would take him right now.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    Robbie, I just spoke to Mrs Johnson. She definately still wants Reed.

  • In reply to gposner:

    that's not what she told ME the other day

  • If Lannan comes to the Cubs he'd be more valuable as a starter. How about strengthening the 'pen by moving Samardzija back there?

  • That makes sense from a logistical standpoint. Solves a couple of problems, but I think the Cubs are committed to seeing what they have in Samardzija.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    In that case, since the Cubs would be putting Lannan in the 'pen, Byrd would be too much to give up. He'll bring more the closer the trade deadlines get. If the Cubs want Lannan for the 'pen Washington would have to include cash or another player/prospect.

  • A good starter is more valuable than a good reliever. Let's give Samardzjia a chance.

  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    Agreed. They've gone too far to go back. It'd be like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.

    Cubs should see what they have in Samardzija as a starter. Could be found money.

  • Lannan and a prospect would make much more sense. But it would have to be a somewhat decent prospect -- maybe a promising relief candidate? As you say, there's no room for Lannan in the Cubs rotation, and if he wants to stay a starter, then he'd probably be behind Randy Wells, too.

    I don't particularly like this idea, because I'm skeptical that the Nats would give up a decent prospect as well as Lannan.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I am too, but that's probably why a deal hasn't been done already. I think the Nats would have jumped at the chance to trade them straight up. They need Byrd, they don't need Lannan.

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    How much of this is G-Witt just speculating? I see Byrd being a fit for the Nats, but I don't see a fit for Lannan with the Cubs, other than in the bullpen, and $5M is a lot to pay for a reliever. The Cubs have plenty of bottom of the rotation type starters. They don't need another one. The only way this really makes sense to me is if the Cubs planned to turn around and spin Lannan somewhere else for prospects, but if that is the case, why couldn't the Nats just do that themselves, and why wouldn't the Cubs just eat all or part of Byrd's salary and trade him for prospects? This just sounds like one of those "The editor is on my ass to fill space, and I need to write something quick in order to justify my job" kind of stories, and since the Nats are in town, it makes sense.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Hard to say, but I was thinking the same thing. It definitely has people talking. This was something that Tom speculated on a while ago, so maybe Wittenmeyer just recycling stuff.

    And totally agree that Lannan not a good fit at that salary if he's a RP. He's also got another arb year and he's already making $5M

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    This doesn't make any sense unless it's a three team deal, and I almost think the Nats would have to be on board with that to get it done because of the way Mike Rizzo is. He has been on of the more difficult GM's to deal with.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Going to be tough to get a deal done here. We'll see. Today is an off day so I'm keeping my eye on any rumors.

  • the only reason the cubs want lannan is to cash in on him. the cubs can fill a nats major need by sending byrd to washington.

    byrd makes 1.5 mil more than lannan so the cubs would probably have to throw that in for the nats to give up any type of worthwhile prospect, once that deal was completed the cubs would turn around and send lannan to another team for prospects.

    so its possible that the cubs could acquire 3 mid level prospects (1 from washington, 2 from the new team acquiring lannan) for 1.5 mil. we'd be shedding 5 mil off the payroll, a spot on the 40 man (hopefully) and adding 3 prospects with some type of upside.

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    In reply to jshmoran:

    BINGO!!! As I mentioned above, Mike Rizzo has a reputation for being difficult to deal with, especially with people he doesn't like. So he is kind of like Larry Luchinno in that respect. Lannan makes no sense for the Cubs unless they already have a deal with another team in place for him.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    But Lannan has another year and to the Cubs he's just an RP, so we're talking $5M this year, plus an arb year next season where he'll probably make more.. His WAR over the past 3 years is also much lower than Byrd's. If I'm Theo, I'm the guy who wants extra. Except I say, "we're well under budget, give us a future piece in lieu of cash". Then maybe you flip Lannan for another prospect?

    Lannan is just a guy. BIggest asset is he throws lefty but he's a 5th starter. No way I take him straight up for Byrd -- everyday legit CF'ers aren't easy to come by. 5th starters are a dime a dozen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    as i said, we wouldnt be trading byrd straight up for lannan, but we'd also have to throw in that 1.5 mil to get a prospect. i think theres a little cubs bias towards byrd, hes good but he isnt a starting cf on a playoff team. lannan is a proven lefty starter and still young, there value is pretty similar.

    also the cubs dont make this deal without having the second deal (with lannan for prospects to another team) in place. im sure the nationals have had a chance to deal lannan and passed it up for whatever reason, but theo and co. might find such a trade acceptable because they have no need for/ attachment to lannan.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    We agree on Byrd for Lannan and prospect, but not the cash.

    Lannan is the guy making more money when you count the 2nd year. Why would the Cubs pitch in cash? Nats probably save $4-5M total by making this deal. Byrd's been the more valuable player anyway. He's given the Cubs surplus value. Lannan did not last year. In fact, Byrd has given the Cubs 6.4 WAR over the last two years. That's more than Lannan has accumulated in his 4 year career.

    I don't know how proven Lannan is other than he's proven he's slightly above replacement level. He'll give you innings and he's lefty...and there really isn't a lot of upside there to get better despite his youth.

    Not that Byrd is any great shakes but legit CF defense not easy to find. There aren't 30 legit CF'ers in the league -- and Washington is one of those teams.

    If you're a team that's solid in other areas, a good defensive CF who provides average offense can be an asset even for a playoff team. The Cards did okay with Jon Jay, who's not the defensive OF'er Byrd is and put up numbers similar to Byrd's healthy 2010.

  • Could be a nice opportunity for a three team deal here. Byrd to the Nats, Lannan to a team in need of a lefty starter, Cubs get a mid-level prospect from the third team or perhaps help for the pen.

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