It still doesn’t make much sense, but at least now folks are acknowledging it.

The rumor – which suggested that the Cubs had checked in with the Nationals on lefty John Lannan – has been shot down by a Cubs source, which was to be expected, not only because that tends to be how these things play out, but also because it was hard to figure out why the Cubs would want to take on Lannan in the first place. From the Tribune:

A highly placed source with theNationals denied a report the club has spoken with the Cubs about acquiring Marlon Byrd in a deal for left-handed starter John Lannan. The Nationals have top prospect Bryce Harper waiting in the wings to take over in center field and aren’t interested in Byrd.

The source said they are not actively shopping Lannan, who was demoted to Triple A. The Cubs also are not willing to take on Lannan’s $5 million salary to be a middle reliever and have enough starting depth at Triple-A Iowa.

Though that denial has a few holes – it denies that the Cubs specifically spoke to the Nationals about a Byrd for Lannan swap, but technically doesn’t rule out conversations about Byrd or Lannan, individually, or about other players – it strikes me as pretty credible, given how odd the fit seemed in the first place.

So what happened?

Well, like I said when the rumor first surfaced, I tend to think that the Cubs checked in with the Nationals after Lannan was demoted. Like many other teams probably did, the Cubs were just checking to see how desperate the Nationals were. That kind of pulse-checking is worth doing, but it rarely leads to a deal.

Interestingly, it sounds like there was a possibility that the Cubs were interested in adding Lannan as another lefty to the bullpen, but only if the Nationals ate some of his salary. Given that Lannan still could have value to a number of clubs as a back-of-the-rotation lefty (including the Nats if they suffer an injury), you can understand the Nats’ reluctance to kick in cash just to move him.

  • BN Virgin

    I’m hoping they can trade Byrd fairly soon. All reports are that he’s a great teammate and I DO like the way he plays the game, however, I can’t stand watching his AB’s.

  • BleacherBum

    I think the Cubs should just keep Marlon the rest of the year and give Brett Jackson a fresh start next year and let him play a full year at Iowa to make sure he is ready. I do like the way Byrd plays as well. I’m sure that is an unpopular opinion though.

    • JB88

      Based on the way that service time is calculated, I don’t see the point of keeping Jackson in the minors for the full year just to bring him up to start the beginning of next year. Basically, with the way that service time is accrued, a team can effectively gain 1/2 a season for “free”. So, if the Cubs brought up Jackson in June or July, they’d give him the chance to get major league experience without costing them a year of their 6 years of control.

      If you retain Byrd for the entire 2012 season and bring up Jackson at the start of next season you do a few negative things: (1) you gain nothing for Marlon Byrd, an expiring asset who the Cubs won’t bring back next year and who isn’t in the Type A FA-class of OF that you’d risk a high salary offer to; and (2) as outlined above, you don’t gain any benefit with Jackson from a service clock-perspective. All in all, I don’t see a Theo Epstein-run team either keeping Byrd for a full-season or leaving Jackson in the minors for all of 2012 only to bring him up to start 2013.

      • WGNstatic

        I couldn’t agree more. Short of an MVP caliber season Byrd will not be offered arbitration and the guaranteed 12M or so that would come with it for 2013.

        I’ll be shocked if Jackson isn’t the starting CF on August 1.

  • King Jeff

    This never made sense simply because Lannan wouldn’t fit with the Cubs. I could see if maybe Maholm had struggled or shown he needed to recover more, but the only lefty I see the Cubs adding would be an established bullpen arm.

  • Andrew

    I was very confused by that rumor from the beginning. Why would they want to pick up a $5 million contract for a pitcher that didn’t even make the bullpen for the Nationals. Thanks but no thanks!

    • THEOlogical

      “…that didn’t even make the bullpen for the Nationals”.
      You must have been without power and a connection to the internet over the weekend.

  • CubsfanKevin

    I don’t see how any team would want Byrd for anything more than a clubhouse cheerleader. He doesn’t do anything that well. Case in point, with a man on 2nd and none out yesterday he tried to drop a bunt……and popped out. Now i am not sure if this was his call or the dugout. I find it highly unlikely Sveum called it. You then have a man on 3rd, one out, with your 8th batter at the plate who will then be IBB’d so Samardzija can sac Clevenger to 2nd w/ 2 outs for Dejesus. That, in my opinion, is bad baseball. Why would any team trade for a light hitting CF who doesn’t play smart baseball?

    • Njriv

      Woah, on just one play? Byrd would be a decent outfielder on any other team. By that logic we should have dumped almost everyone on the roster for making a dumb decision.

  • LWeb23

    I never bought into this one bit. The Cubs are happy with their SP. I’m all for trading away Marlon Byrd (although he is a good player and great teammate), but it’s only going to happen if in return we acquire young asset(s). Not a 28 year old stuggling with “focus issues” and giving up 5 runs in 2IP in his AAA start.

  • Smitty

    I am still confused on why the Braintrust would be looking for another lefty bullpen arm when Maine did really well this Spring. Why not bring him up and get him some experience?

    • Brett

      I think they believe he still has some inconsistency issues.

    • Luke

      Beliveau would be an option as well.  Those two could be competing for that second bullpen lefty job right now.

  • art

    plus when Jackson was sent down, Dale said “Jackson is ready now”.

  • Njriv

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Dempster and Byrd next year also, albeit they would have to take a pay cut, but if they did Dempster would be a good end of the rotation starter and a veteran presence and hes been one of there more consistent starters, except from last year but everyone has one of those now and then and Byrd would be a decent 4th outfielder to have on the team.