Lannan's future with Nats could be decided today

Sometime today, we'll learn whether John Lannan still could have a future with the Nationals or whether the team will cut ties with its two-time opening day starter.

The deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players is 11:59 p.m. tonight. The Nationals have 10 players up for arbitration, but only two are legitimate candidates to be non-tendered, which is a fancy term for the team declining the option to negotiate a contract through arbitration.

Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Drew Storen, Roger Bernadina and Craig Stammen are all going through arbitration for the first time and will be tendered contacts. Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard (second time through arbitration) will get offers from the Nationals and Tom Gorzelanny (third time) is almost certain to, as well.

That just leaves Lannan, the 28-year-old left-hander, and Jesus Flores, the 28-year-old catcher, as non-tender possibilities.

Flores is almost certain to be let go, partly due to his on-field performance, but mainly because the Nationals have their two catchers for 2013 in Wilson Ramos and Kurt Suzuki.

Flores was pushed into a backup role late in the 2012 season when the Nats acquired Suzuki in a trade with the Athletics, and with Suzuki under contract again for next season and Ramos expected to be healthy after major knee surgery this summer, Flores is the odd man out.

He'll end up latching on somewhere else, and could benefit from a change of scenery and a fresh start with a new organization.

Lannan, meanwhile, is an especially interesting case. The Nationals have not finalized their starting rotation for next season, and we all know that you can never have too many proven starting pitchers in your organization.

But with Lannan set to make close to the $5 million he brought in last season through arbitration, and the Nats clearly looking to go in a different direction with their No. 5 spot in the rotation, Lannan appears likely to be non-tendered.

Because teams still control the rights of arbitration-eligible players until they're officially non-tendered, it's possible that the Nats find a trade partner and get something minor in return for Lannan before tonight's deadline to tender him a contract.

It's also possible that the Nats keep Lannan around for the time being by tendering him a contract, and then shop him over the winter and into spring training. Lannan does have one more option remaining, a team official confirmed, which would also allow the Nats to keep him as organizational depth and send him to the minors again in 2013, as they did this season.

The more likely scenario, however, has the Nats giving Lannan a chance to restart his career elsewhere, with a team that will make a spot for him in their major league rotation.

For what it's worth, here are MLBTradeRumors.com's projections for what the 10 Nats listed above would receive in arbitration:

Lannan: $5 million
Zimmermann: $4.9 million
Clippard: $4.6 million
Desmond: $3.2 million
Gorzelanny: $2.8 million
Detwiler: $2.2 million
Storen: $1.7 million
Flores: $1.2 million
Bernadina: $1.1 million
Stammen: $900,000

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