The Washington Nationals made a move to clear up a roster space and a bit of cash Wednesday. Washington sent pitcher Tanner Roark to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for reliever Tanner Rainey. The Tanner-for-Tanner swap does bring a reliever with potential to the Nationals, but the deal appears to be more about finances and roster space for Washington.
The team confirmed the deal on Twitter:
The #Nats have acquired pitcher Tanner Rainey from the Reds.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) December 13, 2018
Washington Nationals Deal Tanner Roark to Cincinnati Reds
Roark debuted with the Nationals in 2013 and has been a steady, two-way pitcher since then. He made 93 starts from 2016-18 and 141 total over his six-year career, but he has been unable to reach the same numbers he posted in 2016. During that season, Roark made 33 starts, posting a 2.83 ERA over 210 innings with 172 strikeouts.
Roark still made 60 total starts over the last two seasons, but his effectiveness took a hit. Along with his climbing ERA, Roark was projected to make $9.8 million in arbitration.
Though Roark was a consistent member of the Nationals rotation in the past, the signing of Patrick Corbin significantly changed the outlook moving forward. Washington now has three very formidable but high-priced pitchers in Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, and Max Scherzer. Paying Roark his potential arbitration money just didn’t make sense.
In exchange for Roark, the Reds sent Tanner Rainey to the Nationals. Rainey was fantastic at Triple-A in 2018, appearing in 44 games with a 3.18 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched. He did appear in 8 MLB games, but he was largely ineffective. Rainey allowed 19 earned runs, 12 walks, and four home runs in just seven innings at the big-league level.
For the Reds, they improve a rotation that was a big reason for their struggles in a 95-loss 2018 season. No Reds starter with a minimum of 20 starts posted an ERA better than 4.30. Roark’s 4.34 ERA last season would have been second-best on the team, trailing only Luis Castillo‘s ERA of 4.30. Roark is a notable improvement to Cincinnati’s biggest weakness and should slot in nicely to the Reds rotation.
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