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Lannan still could be sent to AAA

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Lannan still could be sent to AAA

The Nationals' unconventional decision to have veteran John Lannan pitch most of last season at Syracuse despite a $5 million salary seemed like a one-time move with no chance to be repeated.

Turns out the Nationals do have the ability to send the left-hander back to Class AAA in 2013 because he still has one remaining minor-league option.

The remaining option, confirmed by a club official, comes as a surprise to many who believed Lannan had already used up all three given to professional ballplayers. What most didn't realize what that the option the Nationals used on Lannan at the beginning of the 2008 season didn't count because he was recalled to the majors only eight days later.

The "option" terminology is a bit misleading, because each one encompasses an entire season. For example, Lannan was optioned to Syracuse three separate times this year, but that counted as only one of his three career options.

Lannan also spent five weeks at Class AA Harrisburg during the summer of 2010, using up a second option. But what was previously believed to be a third option in 2008 doesn't actually count.

On March 26, 2008, the Nationals optioned the lefty to what was then their Class AAA affiliate in Columbus. He never actually appeared in a game, though, and was quickly recalled on April 4 after closer Chad Cordero was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement stipulates that an option is used up only if a player spends at least 20 days in the minors. Lannan spent only eight days with Columbus and remained in the majors the rest of the 2008 season; thus he never used up his option.

The end result of all this: If they want, the Nationals could do the same thing to Lannan in 2013 that they did this year. If tendered a contract before tomorrow night's deadline, he'll be guaranteed to make at least $4 million next season. The Nationals could either keep him in their Opening Day rotation, trade him to another club or once again send him to Syracuse to serve as a valuable (albeit pricey) insurance policy in case one of their other starters is injured.

What about the rule that gives veteran players the right to refuse assignment to the minors? That only applies to those who have at least five full years of big-league service time.

Though he's now appeared in parts of six big-league seasons, Lannan has only accrued 4 years and 96 days of service time, leaving him 84 days short of veteran status.

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras

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Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.

Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.

On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.

But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.

Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.

Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways

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