Near the conclusion of Day 3 of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals announced a trade which will send RHP Tanner Roark to the Reds in exchange for Minor League RHP Tanner Rainey. This deal does not come as much of a surprise, as the Reds had been rumored to be in the market for a reliable starter and the Nationals had been rumored to be trying to rid of Roark, who is projected to make over $10 million next season after arbitration. In this sense, both sides will seem to benefit equally from this transaction.
As stated in the Reds’ official press release, “Over the past 3 seasons, Roark is 1 of only 12 Major League pitchers with at least 93 starts and 1 of only 6 pitchers with at least 571.2 innings pitched.” Considering the Reds had only one truly reliable starter last season in Luis Castillo, the addition of Roark is a nice low-cost, low-risk move. Roark is set to slot in behind Castillo in the Reds Opening Day rotation, however, the Reds could very well add another starter, potentially of the elite variety. Multiple sources have indicated that Cincinnati has been involved in trade discussions with their cross-state rivals, the Cleveland Indians, who have shown a willingness to trade either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Additionally, earlier today, it was reported that the Reds had joined the plethora of teams interested in J.T. Realmuto. While the asking price for an Indians top starter or J.T. Realmuto may be too much for the Reds in this stage of their rebuild, just the fact that they’ve inquired shows that the front office will not be hesitant to make a splash this offseason.
As for the Nationals, their rotation does not take much of a hit with the loss of Roark, with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and the newly-signed Patrick Corbin set to spearhead what should be a frightening Nationals rotation next season. However, some of their young pitchers like Erick Fedde and Joe Ross struggled in their limited starts last season, suggesting that Washington could explore adding a proven veteran starter on a short-term deal. Anibal Sanchez, Ervin Santana, and Derek Holland would seem to be good fits for the Nationals if the front office does indeed choose to replace Roark from outside the organization.
Although this move for the Nationals was certainly more about the money than the return, Washington does get an intriguing pitcher back in Tanner Rainey, who has good stuff, but whose control has been an issue throughout his Minor League career, as well as his brief stint in the Majors last season with the Reds.
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