The Nationals have been looking for a centerfielder all offseason and spring. Currently, they are playing Roger Bernadina and Brett Carroll in CF and would clearly see Byrd, the former National between 2005 and 2006, as an upgrade offensively. Byrd hit .276, 9, 35 in 119 games in an injury shortened season with the Cubs last season. In 2009 with Texas, he had his best season hitting .283, 20, 89. For his career, he is .281, 81, 437 and is currently 34.
Lannan was expected to make the Nationals rotation due to the injury to Chien-Ming Wang so it was a surprise that he did not make the team. Lannan was 10-13, 3.70 in 33 starts pitching 184 2/3 innings, getting 106 Ks and pitching to a 1.462 WHIP. For his career, he is 38-51, 4.00, 128, 751, 393, 1.423 and is currently 27. The Cubs would like some depth in their rotation and would prefer to have Chris Volstad start the season in AAA along with LHP Travis Wood and have more of an impact later in the season.
This makes sense for more than the needs of the respective teams. Lannan is due $5 million this season and Byrd is owed $6.5 million, so there is minimal difference in the players salaries. The Nationals would have paid $1.5 million for a starting centerfielder as a free agent, so it is a no-brainer. Byrd is a free agent after this season and Lannan is arbitration eligible for one more year. The Cubs could easily non-tender Lannan if they do not get the production they are expecting. Likely, they will be pleased with Lannan, who should provide innings and pitch deep into games for the Cubs. Byrd will be trying to get his new contract and should put up good numbers for the Nationals. This deal has to get done, it just makes too much sense.