In a move that seemingly nobody saw coming, the Washington Nationals have chosen to option left-hander John Lannan to Triple-A Syracuse on the final day of Spring Training, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Lannan and his $5 million salary were the likely candidate to take the place of the injured Chien-Ming Wang as the No. 5 starter in the rotation. After recording more than 180 innings with an ERA of 3.70 in 2011, Lannan was considered the favorite for the job.
This move comes less than two weeks after manager Davey Johnson unofficially named Lannan his fifth starter, saying, "John's my guy."
That move sent Ross Detwiler and Tom Gorzelanny to the bullpen. Both were scheduled to be long men, but that was not an ideal situation as neither is a right-hander.
With the optioning of Lannan to Triple-A, Detwiler finds himself with the No. 5 spot in the rotation. That move allows Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus to be a part of the Opening Day roster.
Mattheus will pitch in a setup role while Stammen will serve as the right-handed long reliever.
Detwiler was a member of the rotation at times in 2011 and impressed the club with his raw stuff. For years his pitching ability intrigued the Nationals, but it wasn't until last season that he was able to put it all together.
He had nine starts from August 4th to the end of the season. In those starts, he compiled a 4-5 record with a 3.20 ERA.
When Johnson was asked about the move, he commented: "It's really more about Ross Detwiler."
Lannan, who was informed about the move during the third inning of Tuesday's game, is the second-highest-paid pitcher on the Nationals behind Edwin Jackson.
With that much money sitting at Triple-A, it's likely that the Nationals will once again resume trade talks with other clubs regarding the left-hander.
He remains a National for now, albeit at the minor league level.