Lannan asks Nationals to trade him

Left-hander John Lannan asked the Washington Nationals for a trade after they demoted him to Triple-A Syracuse, and he declared in an email sent to reporters Wednesday: ”I believe that I belong in a big-league rotation.”

Under the subject line, ”Thoughts on announcement of being optioned,” Lannan wrote that he told general manager Mike Rizzo ”a trade would be the best solution for everyone in both the short and long term.”

”I am certainly disappointed in the Nationals’ decision. I met with Mike Rizzo for the second time since I received the news to tell him exactly how I feel, and my agent has also spoken to Mike,” Lannan wrote. ”I know what my rights and the team’s rights are. …”

Rizzo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Nationals open the regular season Thursday at the Chicago Cubs.

The Nationals surprisingly optioned Lannan to the minors on Tuesday, deciding to give the No. 5 spot in their season-opening rotation to another lefty, Ross Detwiler. While Detwiler spent much of 2011 at Syracuse, Lannan was making 33 starts for the Nationals, going 10-13 with a 3.70 ERA over 184 2-3 innings. He led the club in starts, wins and innings.

The 27-year-old Lannan is slated to earn $5 million in 2012. He was drafted by the Nationals in the 11th round of the 2005 amateur draft, moved quickly through their system, and was Washington’s opening-day starter in 2009 and 2010.

”I appreciate all the opportunities the Nationals organization has given me throughout the years. I’ve done a lot for this organization through some tough times. I anticipated … being part of the team’s next exciting chapter,” Lannan wrote Wednesday. ”If the Nationals feel they don’t need me or want me with the current make-up of the team, I can respect their decision. However, I’m very confident that I am capable of making a meaningful contribution to a major-league team.”

Since making his big league debut in 2007, Lannan is 38-52 with a 4.00 ERA in 128 appearances, all as a starter.

”I believe that I belong in a big-league rotation. I am a proven major-league starting pitcher, with a track record of success,” he wrote.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Tuesday that he informed Lannan of the move to Syracuse in the third inning of that day’s 8-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

”Johnny’s a good friend,” Detwiler said Tuesday after Washington’s exhibition finale. ”You never want to see a good friend leave the clubhouse. … It’s kind of bittersweet seeing Lannan go. But I also get a chance to start now.”