Zuckerman: Nats acquire LHP Gorzelanny from Cubs

Zuckerman: Nats acquire LHP Gorzelanny from Cubs
January 17, 2011, 8:16 pm
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Monday, January 17, 2011, 3:12 p.m., Updated at 4:15 p.m., Updated at 6:10 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
CSNwashington.com

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Tom Gorzelanny may not qualify as the "No. 1 starter" the Nationals have been seeking all winter. But the 28-year-old left-hander is more of a sure thing than several of the candidates vying for spots in Washington's rotation, and he comes at a much cheaper price than other front-line pitchers on the market.

So general manager Mike Rizzo pulled the trigger today on a trade that brings Gorzelanny to D.C. and sends minor-leaguers Michael Burgess, A.J. Morris and Graham Hicks to the Cubs, sources with knowledge of the deal have confirmed.

The trade won't become official until Gorzelanny passes a physical, expected to take place tomorrow. Two of the players headed to Chicago are outfielder Michael Burgess and right-hander A.J. Morris; the third is a pitcher described as a "mid-level prospect."

Gorzelanny went 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 29 games (23 starts) for the Cubs last season. He owns a career 36-37 record and 4.68 ERA in six big-league seasons with the Cubs and Pirates, with whom he posted his best numbers (14-10, 3.88 ERA in 2007).

The lefty will join a Nationals rotation that currently includes veterans Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis, promising 24-year-old Jordan Zimmermann, left-hander John Lannan, prospects Yunesky Maya and Ross Detwiler and rehabbing right-hander Chien-Ming Wang.

Gorzelanny made 800,000 last season and is arbitration-eligible for the next three years. He won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.

Burgess, a sandwich pick in the 2007 draft, was at one point rated the Nationals' fourth-best prospect by Baseball America. The outfielder -- who hits for power and possesses a strong throwing arm but has struggled to hit for a high average while striking out a lot in the minors -- had fallen down the organization depth chart and this year was not listed among their top 10 prospects.

Morris, a 2009 fourth-round pick out of college who finished runner-up to Stephen Strasburg for the NCAA's Golden Spikes Award, is a hard-throwing right-hander who went 5-3 with a 3.88 ERA at Class A Potomac last season. He also wasn't listed among Baseball America's top 10 prospects in the Nationals' organization.

Hicks, a left-hander selected in the fourth-round of the 2008 draft, went 1-6 with a 5.27 ERA at low-Class A Hagerstown last season.

Meanwhile, the Nationals announced this afternoon that they've come to terms with Lannan on a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration. Lannan, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time, will make 2.75 million. He made 458,000 last season.

Washington also signed veteran infielder Alex Cora to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. Cora, 35, stands a good chance of making the roster as fallback option at second base if Danny Espinosa struggles. He'll earn 900,000 if he makes the club, with up to 600,000 in performance bonuses.