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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 Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

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With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.