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Cincinnati Reds acquire Tanner Roark from Nationals for Tanner Rainey

This deal is a Full House: all about the Tanners.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves

We’ve been following along with a lot of rumored deals involving the Cincinnati Reds since the Winter Meetings started earlier this week. So, of course the Reds come off the top rope this evening with a trade announcement that was on absolutely nobody’s radar.

Maybe I don’t follow all of the right people on Twitter, but I saw absolutely no rumors about this one before getting the Reds Twitter notification on my phone. So, quite the tight ship these Reds are running, I guess.

A couple of Tanner R.’s are swapping teams in this deal. This move actually somewhat qualifies the Get The Pitching mandate. While no one is going to mistake a 32-year-old Tanner Roark as the missing piece that makes the Reds contenders overnight, he’s been a solid contributor in the Nationals rotation for a while now.

Maybe Get The Pitching season has commenced.

Roark’s stand-out season came back in 2016, where he pitched 210 innings for the Nationals, good for a 2.83 ERA and 1.171 WHIP (151 ERA+). A nearly 80% strand rate and 3.79 FIP suggested maybe that level of performance wasn’t particularly sustainable, but the season afforded him a top 10 finish in NL Cy Young balloting.

Still, while he hasn’t replicated that 5.6 bWAR season since, he’s been worth a healthy 4.2 bWAR combined the last two seasons (though, three of them came in 2018). In the most recent season, he was able to lower his BB9 from 3.2 to 2.5 year over year. While that also coincided with a drop in K/9, the 7.3 mark he pitched to in 2018 was more inline with his career average (7) than his 2017 number (8.2).

Tanner Rainey made his Reds debut in 2018 and while he has a very live arm and electric stuff, he’s always struggled to find the strike zone with any consistency. That was on full display in his few stints on the team last season. The sample, obviously, was short (7 IP), but the BB/9 was, uh, robust (15.4). Rainey has back of the ‘pen talent, but it’s not come together yet, and he’ll be 26 on Christmas Day. The Reds, obviously, were willing to move on while the Nationals must see something that they feel they can correct.

2019 will be Roark’s ARB-3 season, which means that he’ll spend only one season as a Red unless the team decides to work out a contract extension between now and 2020.