The Nationals completed three transactions on this holiday Monday as they tried to finalize their 25-man roster and shore up their starting rotation with less than a month to go before pitchers and catchers report. Let's break them down in order of significance.
'-The Nationals traded three prospects to the Chicago Cubs for left-handed starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003, spent the first full years of his career with that organization before being traded to the Cubs on July 30, 2009. In 2010, Gorzelanny, who will turn 29 July 12th, appeared in 29 games for Chicago, starting 23 of them and posting a 7-9 record with a 4.09 ERA, a 1.496 WHIP, a strikeout-per-9 innings ratio of 7.9 and a strikeout-per-walk ration of 1.75.
The Nationals sent three prospects to Chicago to complete the deal, and at this point. The biggest name of the three is 22-year-old outfielder Michael Burgess, who spent most of 2010 with the high-A Potomac Nationals, but also played 21 games with AA Harrisburg. In those 101 games with Potomac, Burgess hit 12 home runs and drove in 70 runs, posting a .348 on-base percentage and a .427 slugging percentage. With Harrisburg, Burgess hit six home runs and drove in 15 runs with a .391 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage.
The other two prospects are right-handed pitcher A.J. Morris and left-handed pitcher Graham Hicks. Morris posted a 5-3 record with 2 saves and a 3.88 ERA in 23 appearances for high-A Potomac, including 12 starts, and threw a total of 72 innings for the P-Nats. Hicks made 15 starts for low-A Hagerstown in 2010, posting a 1-6 record with a 5.27 ERA in a total of 66.2 innings.
The other two transactions of note are after the jump.
-The Nationals avoided an arbitration hearing with left-handed pitcher John Lannan by signing him to a one-year deal worth $2.75 million. Lannan, who will turn 27 September 27th, struggled throughout much of the first half of the 2010 season, posting a 2-5 record with a 5.76 ERA before being sent down to AA Harrisburg in late June. However, Lannan performed much better after his August 1 return, going 6-3 with a 3.42 ERA in his final 11 starts of 2010. Lannan's return means that the Nationals now have two arbitration-eligible players who have not agreed to a deal: utility man Michal Morse and reliever Doug Slaten.
-The Nationals also signed infielder Alex Cora to a minor league deal worth $900,000 with an additional $600,000 in performance incentives. Cora, who completed his 13th major league season in 2010, played 66 games with the New York Mets and Texas Rangers in 2010, playing all four infield positions during the course of the season. In total, Cora posted a .266 on-base percentage and a .544 slugging percentage in 187 plate appearances in 2010. Should he make the major league roster, Cora is expected to spell Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa, who underwent minor hand surgery earlier this winter.