The Reds (press release) have acquired Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals in exchange for reliever Tanner Rainey. Roark has been a starting pitcher for the Nationals, for whom he’s made 30 starts and pitched at least 180 innings in the last three seasons. 

Last season, Roark had a 4.34 ERA, 4.42 xFIP and 4.27 SIERA. 

Player pages for Roark at: Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.

Roark (32) enters his third year of arbitration eligibility and can become a free agent in 2020. He made $6.5 million in 2018 and projected to earn $9.8 million in 2019. Given his age, it’s hard to see Roark as a candidate for extension. 

Dick Williams commented on the deal:

“We’ve been laying in the weeds for a couple of years and focused on rebuilding, and now it’s time to add to the team,” Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “We’re in that mode now. And we fully expect to make more deals. This is the first of more to come.”

In trading Rainey for a one-year pitcher, the Reds are demonstrating their seriousness about competing in 2019. Here’s a short scouting report on Rainey from April from Doug Gray. 

The Reds see Roark as a solid, innings-eating starter, not a top-of-the-rotation guy. As Williams says, Roark is the first of more to come. 

71 Responses

  1. Matt Hendley

    He better be serious about more deals. I like the Deal, as a start to something not as the Whole Offseason.

  2. Capt. Phreddie Pizazz

    Seems like a good pickup, especially if the new pitching coach can work his magic. Now, do the Reds avoid arbitration and try to lock him up on a multi-year deal?

    • redfan4life

      If he does decent, he is probably more of a flip for a prospect in July than a multi- year deal guy.

  3. Private Gripweed

    I love this acquisition. Remember when the Reds tried to bill Arroyo and Simon as “innings eaters?”

  4. old-school

    Non-tendering Hamilton cuts budget in 2019 and opens playing time for younger players to improve the future. Today’s move improves 2019 but also doesn’t diminish 2020-2023.
    Future moves need to continue this trend.

    -improve 2019
    -improve 2020-23
    -free up payroll for 2020-2023.

    • lwblogger2

      That’s where I’m at too. This is a nice incremental move. Get better in 2019 and don’t mortgage 2020-2023.

  5. Sliotar

    All the reported buzz at the Winter Meetings is that the Reds are trying to do some things…. but this move hardly qualifies as a needle-mover towards contention in 2019.

    Roark is basically like re-signing Harvey…an older version, gaining a half-win in WAR projection (1.5 for Roark, 1.0 for Harvey).

    If the Reds are collecting expiring contracts in 2019 to say they are “doing something”…as long as it doesn’t hurt the prospect pipeline and the real window, starting in 2020 or so….great.

    But, these names so far (Roark, Puig, Wood, Stroman)…. no one in the NL Central is going to look at that group and say “here comes the Reds.”

    • David

      Geez, so negative. Such a Debbie Downer.
      But yeah, Roark is a stopgap to wait for either more young pitcher development (and how long have we waited for that?), a flip at mid year to get something valuable if the Reds are now where near contention, or add some years if the Reds and Roark are doing well.

      Not Dallas Keuchel, that’s for sure. And I don’t think he is coming to the Reds, either.

      • Sliotar

        Actually, if you are going to call me that, I prefer Lil’ Debbie Downer…because I am a big fan of their snack cakes.

        I am excited about the long-term future….if Blustery Bob stays out of messing with the talent coming, allows Gennett to walk, etc.

      • Daytonian

        I appreciate the humor in your reply.

      • Jim t

        2 years of Harvey at the right price works for me.

      • greenmtred

        I guess I’m a Debbie Downer, too, because this move seems, at first glance, to be mostly about 2019, and 2019 doesn’t look to be a year of serious competitiveness for the Reds. Any team might need a stop-gap, but stop-gap is mostly what the Reds’ pitching staff is now. Not a bog deal either way, I guess, but I really hope there’s more substantive change close behind.

    • lwblogger2

      I get what you’re saying as far as the kind of work one might expect and your point in general. In my mind I like this better than bringing Harvey back because Roark can give you quality innings. All pitchers are injury risks but Roark presents less risk than Harvey. Roark also gives you starts that should give his team a chance to win the game. He’s not going to dazzle but he’s solid.

      • greenmtred

        I’m not bummed about Roark at all, since getting him didn’t require giving up top prospects, and the Reds do need to play better in 2019, if only for my morale and sanity. I’m not as down on Harvey as you, LW, since I think there’s considerable potential for continued improvement from him, but all of the usual caveats apply: Not too much money, no long-term deal, etc. He may be an injury risk, but I could look at it the way I look at my work truck: It’s old, but every time I fix something on it, that’s something that won’t need to be fixed again for awhile. An imperfect analogy, one might say.

  6. Sliotar

    “Laying in the weeds.”

    That is what this has been?

    Dick Williams has had a year in 2018…at least with some of his quotes.

    The idea that the Reds “won” this trade, as I have seen many places already, is a head-shaker.

    The Nationals signed the top FA SP, dumped a old guy in Roark that they have ridden hard for salary relief, got a lottery ticket back….and might sign a guy in Anibel Sanchez who is projected to have higher K/9 and more WAR than Roark.

    If Williams turns out to be half the GM that Washingon’s Mike Rizzo is, the Reds are going to be in pretty good shape.

    • BigRedMike

      I tend to agree with this. Roark was not needed by the Nationals and they picked up a big arm. Probably a good trade for both.
      Roark would have had one of the highest WAR for the Reds last year.
      Steamer does not have an optimistic projection.
      Certainly not a signing that will catch ground with the teams in the division

  7. Matt Hendley

    Like I said better not be only move. Its alright though. Old school is relatively right though, this doesnt impact the future and helps the present.

  8. WVRedlegs

    I’m just afraid this signals the Reds are one step closer to re-signing Matt Harvey.
    Just not an impressive move. This isn’t bold or aggressive. It is about as vanilla as it gets. The low cost is one positive.

    • Tom

      Actually, I think it signals quite the opposite. The Reds still have cash. This trade doesn’t massively impact payroll. If the Reds have the cash for 1-2 top of the rotation starters, this turns out to be a very strong move.

    • old-school

      What is the likelihood the Reds win in 2019? Vegas Odds are 120:1 to win the World Series and 60:1 to win the NL. What moves can the Reds make in 2019 with a $110 million dollar base payroll now with Roarck to pass the Dodgers/Cubs/Nationals/Braves/Phillies/Brewers/Rockies and Cardinals? That doesn’t include the AL- Astros/Yankees/Red Sox/Indians. etc.

      So probably need to move on to 2020 and improve 2019 as best you can, without compromising the 2020-23 window. Look at the Reds 40 man roster. They have 4 outfielders. One had major shoulder surgery and still isn’t swinging a bat. Another was injured the majority of the second half. Another has never proven he’s an every day player in the big leagues and the 4th has never played above AA. The pitching staff has one SP who has pitched effectively and healthy the last 2 years and 1 Bullpen pitcher who has done the same. This team isn’t 1 or 2 or 3 players away. It also has Homer Bailey and $28 million in obligations in 2019.

      The 2019 Reds aren’t winning. Focus on 2020. Get better in 2019 and purge bad contracts or old players.

  9. jgorrell.tcp

    The sad thing about this trade is that Tanner had better numbers last year than our number 1 based on mlb.coms depth chart (DeSclafani). Consider me in the group of less than impressed.

  10. earmbrister

    As bad as the rotation has been, this is a big step forward. Big in that Roark probably slots in as our #2 starter. Not bad for a minor league reliever who throws hard, but can’t currently find the plate. As has been said previously, Roark is a bridge to our younger prospects like Santillan. If the Reds sign Keuchel, the rotation has suddenly gone from woeful to decent. I like the look of:

    Mahle, Lorenzen, Reed, etal

    This move doesn’t need to be bold or aggressive, it just needs to be an improvement.

  11. Tom Mitsoff

    At its core, this trade clearly improves the Reds — the goal of any trade. If it is the only pitcher the Reds end up getting, however, that would be a disappointment.

    • jgorrell.tcp

      Clearly? Not hardly…
      Player A last 7 starts from 2018: IP- 37 2/3, SO- 29, BB- 7, ERA- 5.73
      Player B last 7 starts from 2018: IP- 36, SO- 21m BB- 5, ERA- 5.25

      One player Reds fans think is a big improvement, one play Reds fans cant wait to get out of town.

      • Matt Hendley

        Ill bite roake and who…. it aint rainey gave up a grand slam in his first appearance….first major league pitch if i am not mistaken. And a home run in his second. He was a reds rarety…a pitcher so bad the reds didnt even want him. As a heads up trade its a steal.

      • jgorrell.tcp

        A is one Homer and B is Roark. Granted it’s a small sample size but it just goes to show that overall Roark probably won’t help the Reds win any more games than just about anyone else they could run out there.

      • earmbrister

        Yeah, it IS A SMALL SAMPLE SIZE. Let’s take a bigger sample size

        Player A: last FIVE years ERA+: 131, 91, 151, 96, 98
        Player B: last FIVE years ERA+: 99, 73, 65, 70, 69

        I’ll grant you that years 2 and 3 constituted a total of 8 starts for player B(ailey), but we’re talking 69 starts over FIVE years not 7 starts over a month and a half for Bailey. And we’re comparing a player who has averaged 176 IP over the last 5 years to a player who has averaged 75 IP.

        Roark is a BIG improvement over Bailey’s 69 ERA+ (106 IP) and Romano’s 79 ERA+ (146 IP). He’s an improvement over Mahle’s 84 ERA+, but I’d expect an improvement from Mahle, unlike Homer. He’s an improvement over Disco’s 85 ERA+, but I’m hopeful for an injury bounce back from Disco as well.

        You’re getting a clear improvement to the rotation for a minor leaguer who is far from certain of ever sticking in MLB. The minors are filled with guys who throw upper 90’s but who can’t throw strikes.

        Nice start for the Reds.

      • Tom Diesman

        The Reds just traded Tanner Rainey for 5 Wins. Tanner Roark, and his 4.34 ERA that many are scoffing at will prevent 49 R less for the Reds over last years staff which is roughly 5 additional wins.

        IP R ER ERA
        Reds #4/#5 (Romano/Bailey/Finnegan/Stephens) 180.5 139 125 6.21
        Roark 180.1 90 87 4.34

      • Nate

        Player C last 8 games from 2018: IP- 7, SO -7, BB- 12, ERA 24.43

        Small sample size but it doesn’t look good. Will gladly take Player B in an even swap for Player C and the extra money owed.

  12. Jeff Reed

    Not a bad trade if this is not the end of the acquisition of quality starting pitching for the 2019 season.

    • big5ed

      Well, there are another 2 months of the off-season left, and virtually none of the top free agent hitters have signed.

      The winter meetings have changed. In the 1980s, there was a trade deadline that corresponded to the end of the winter meetings, which gave those meetings a reputation as the be-all of the off-season that no longer is a reality. The Reds, for example, can’t know if they are going to do a Gennett-for-Sonny Gray trade (with a few other pieces), until Manny Machado comes off the board, probably in early January.

      The Dodgers are clearly trying to clear luxury tax space for Bryce Harper, which could include a deal with the Reds. Once Harper signs with the Dodgers, or elsewhere, the market for guys like AJ Pollock and Michael Brantley will become clearer.

      The off-season is just getting started.

      • Matt Hendley

        Viewing the result of this latest trade there is no way that i trade Scooter for Gray now. Anyway it plays out is either an overpay or a price the Yankees are not willing to match. Not saying dont trade for him, just dont trade scooter for him. Not trammell either, i would say use aquino as he has now been resigned on a MiLB deal. The yankees are asking for way too much now.

  13. Gonzo Reds

    Yawn, boring off season. Acquired a cast off RP and a cast off 3-4 SP that we have a bunch of already. Reds FO can talk all day but unless we match up with the Dodgers for Bellinger/Wood we are cellar dwellers in 2019.

    Reds are like NASA. NASA talks big and send probes to take pix of various rings without actually accomplishing anything that we would truly take notice of. It’s been MY WHOLE LIFETIME 50 YEARS since we’ve made a meaningful step in space. Like Curry, no one young believes unless we send humans again to the Moon or better yet Mars. Likewise, after nearly 30 years since the nasty boys the Reds fans aren’t going to believe and fill those seats until we make an actual trade that matters for 2019…

    • Matt Esberger

      Its still early some of the Reds successful off-season trades (Griffey, Casey, Arroyo) took place in Feb & March and some of the biggest trades of last year (Yelich, Cole, McCutchen) happened in late Jan. Castillo/Strailey trade was also in Jan of 2017.

    • lwblogger2

      Who are these 3-4 SP that the Reds have? The only guy the Reds could probably count on to be a 3-4 or better is Castillo. Roark is an upgrade to the rotation. They got him for very little. Who do you want and what are you willing to give up if the Reds were you’re team?

  14. big5ed

    Might the Reds be one of the mystery teams in the Manny Machado bidding? They have the $30 million to offer, and could structure a 10-year deal with an opt-out after 3 years. Machado would run up some big numbers at GABP, then opt out. It would open the Reds’ window earlier, without compromising the length of the window that would otherwise not open until 2020. The Reds could offload a bit more salary for 2019 via the proposed Dodger trade, or perhaps Gennett to the Yankees.

    They could slide Senzel to second, and wing it in center with perhaps a 1-year deal for a guy like Austin Jackson. Siri and/or Trammell will be ready in 2020. Or maybe move Peraza to second and plan Senzel in center.

    It would give the Reds a big RH bat to hit 3rd. The addition of Machado, Senzel and a full, healthy year of Jesse Winker would make the Reds one of the top offenses in the NL. Winker, Votto, Machado, Suarez, Schebler, and Senzel would make a very strong lineup.

    I think the Reds may be considering it. Clearly, it doesn’t solve the starting pitching problem, but is the staff really that much different than the Brewers’ staff was at this time last year?

    • Brady

      If they’re going to give $30 million a year to one guy, I would much rather that guy be Harper.

      • Bill

        I’m not really a fan of Machado, Harper seems like a much better guy to have in the clubhouse and face of a franchise. Harper though seems to alternate between good and great years, but even in his down years puts up .800 OPS. If the Reds want to go crazy with the spending and give up on pitching, Harper is they guy I would go with also

      • big5ed

        Harper wouldn’t come here. Machado would consider it, especially with an opt-out.

        I did not like Machado’s post-season antics this year. My pet baseball peeve is not running out of the box, and it is an awful look to style at your “home run” IN THE WORLD SERIES, only to see it hit the wall and settle for a single.

        I am not saying that the Reds ought to do it, but it would an intriguing and game-changing gambit. He would change the Reds more than any of the pitchers on the market, and would not cost a prospect. Turner Ward ought to know him pretty well, so they wouldn’t be doing it blindly.

  15. Phil

    The last 3 seasons Roark has started 33, 30 and 30 games. Over that time he ranks:

    38th in fWAR
    52nd in xFIP
    73rd in SIERA
    51st in ERA

    So the Reds acquired a #3 (or low end #2) starting pitcher that can be reasonably counted on for 30 starts and 180 or so innings. (assuming with 30 teams a #1 pitcher is ranked 1-30, a #2 ranked 31-60 and a #3 61-90)

    Getting that in return for a reliever who has good stuff but serious control problems and only 7 major-league innings pitched seems like a good deal, even if Roark is only under contract for 1 year.

  16. Mason Red

    I’m more than willing to give the Reds a thumbs up on this deal since every rotation needs a innings eater. Obviously the next move has to be quality starting pitching.

  17. Eric the Red

    Hi guys. Just an FYI: I’m getting an error message whenever I try to access RLN in Safari on an iPad. I can access no problem. The issue started sometime in the last 18 hours or so, probably when the site moved from the old formatting.

  18. roger garrett

    Its a start and its for one year only.Does he make us better?Does he take starts away from somebody else that we need to find out about?The answer to both is yes.Lets see what else happens.

  19. RedsFan11

    I will take the Reds seriously for this year, when they add one more top end starter, and release Bailey outright. I truly believe he is a bad influence on the team not to mention gives the FO a bad reflection to the rest of the players, based on what they let him get away with.

    I understand they money, heck I hate wasting $25 cant imagine $25 million, but the biggest way he can help this team is to not be on it

  20. WVRedlegs

    The new format looks good. Had to do a double take to make sure I was on RLN. Miss the time stamp though on the comments.

    • Matt WI

      Not sure if my lost one will go through or not, didn’t realize I wasn’t logged in. Just echoing the time stamp!

      • Doug Gray

        We are definitely still having some issues with the comments. Every comment is being tagged as “potential spam and awaiting moderation”. Trying to figure out the issue right now.

  21. Bryan E

    I just don’t get all the negativity on RN. Teams make deals like this all the time. They trade minor prospects for guys on short/expiring deals or reclamation projects. Everyone here is acting like DW is touting this as THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY when it’s barely a footnote.

    Is everyone expecting the Reds trade for Syndegaard, sign Keuchel and Harper while only giving up Scott Schebler? We need to quit acting like every deal should be a blockbuster. Be patient.

    Additionally, everyone is chiding Roark for being a mediocre pitcher but has anyone seen the Reds rotation over the past 3 years? Mediocre is a massive upgrade. People seem to think that all of our pitchers will just magically turn the corner and become aces. That’s clearly not going to happen. In that case, acquiring pitching talent is a much more prudent option than hoping and praying these starters will pan out. I appreciate DW’s willingness to make moves like this.

    • greenmtred

      I get your point about the negativity, but it comes from multiple years of terrible baseball followed by moribund off-seasons.

  22. Klugo

    Isnt Roark a flyball pitcher? Especially to lefties? Have you seen our deck in RF? God help him. I guess thats why the big boys make the big bucks.I’ve been hankering for a move… any move; but I hope our FO know what they are doing and not just trading to trade.

  23. msanmoore

    Nice site update … Chrome thinks it’s not secure, though (at least when I try it).

  24. doofus

    Mr. Williams: If the Yanks are “a fully operational Death Star,” are the Reds a sputtering “Millennium Falcon” or has the hyperdrive been fixed?

  25. Nate

    I like the trade and hope it is a sign of more to come. Roark’s comments on the trade on are also positive. For everyone posting about getting the proven player over the what ifs of a prospect, this trade is exactly that.

  26. Eric the Red

    Hi guys, I’m having some trouble with the site. It won’t load on Safari on an iPad. Approximately 18 hours ago it worked fine, back before the format change. Cheers, EtR

  27. Optimist

    A lot of ifs with this deal, but a good start.

    If it sets an amount to renew Harvey for a creative 2-year deal at less than $5m at risk, it’s OK. If it implies, as the FO comments indicate, another better SP acquisition, then it becomes good. If it leads to 2 more SP additions, either better deals or better pitchers, then it’s very good. If they go into the pre-season with 5 real starters as well as the returning prospects, the rebuild should be over and the dealing into contention can start. A lot of ifs.

  28. VaRedsFan

    I like the new format too. But there is a lot of white. Can you make the darker? How about some darker color on the left and right borders??

  29. Steve Schoenbaechler

    A second coming of Bronson? I don’t believe Bronson was considered a top starter, either, but when it came down to getting results, over his prime, he was as good as anyone.

    The Reds still probably need at least one more, preferably a top line starter I would still like to have Dallas myself.

    As for CF, no one will be able to replace Hamilton in CF for defense. But, for offense, I wouldn’t see why we don’t call up the AAA CF. I would think their offense is as good any Hamilton’s. And, at the cost savings, we could put that into better pitching.

    • lwblogger2

      Bronson was younger so I don’t think anyone was exactly sure about what he was as a pitcher. I’m with you on CF. I would like to see what Ervin could do with Schebler making some starts out there. Of course I’m still thinking 2019 get near .500 and 2020-2024 go for it. Of they really think they can compete (I don’t) then they can’t risk a “maybe if I’m right” in CF. They’d need to get someone proven.

  30. WVRedlegs

    There is a nice article on the Mets Noah Syndergaard from 2 days ago and it just makes you want the Reds front office to go all out and do what it takes to acquire him. Syndergaard has 87 career games to date. Verducii compares him with deGrom and Strasburg through their first 87 games. An then compares Syndergaard to the top-20 all time strikeout leaders through first 87 games. Wow. To get Syndergaard as he is entering his prime would be earth shattering for the Reds. And he apparently is being shopped. Reds missed out badly for Yelich last year, don’t miss the boat again this year.

    “That’s an elite pitcher on the rise. Syndergaard ranks ninth all time in most strikeouts through a player’s first 87 games. Here’s what is even more impressive: of the top 20 strikeout pitchers through 87 games, Syndergaard has the fewest walks. He’s a power pitcher who throws strikes and limits home runs.”
    ^^^ THIS ^^^

  31. Bill

    The same people probably complained about signing Gennett, drafting Josh Hamilton in the rule 5, and trading Simon for Suarez.

    The Reds deserve their fair share of criticism for holding onto guys too long and the way trades like Bruce and Chapman occurred. At the same time they have made some excellent trades, and prospects like Reed never lived up to their potential but looked good at the time. We can all look back and say Leake instead of Bailey should have been extended or Grandal kept instead of Mesoraco, but injuries can’t be predicted.

  32. Matt Hendley

    There is a misconception here. We did not miss on yelich, we are not going to miss on Syndergaard. Getting either of these players would have broken the farm system for the next few years….getting both would have gutted it for the next half decade. Trammell, senzel will form the new core of a dominant reds team, for a 10th of the price of yellich. Trading the top prospects, knowing full well that the pickup will not get us to the playoffs is irresponsible. The trade of tanner “grandslam” rainey was a example of identifying a good trade. Trading bobb….excuse me Robert Stevenson, would be an example of another. If we want progress this year money will get it. Still holding out for a kutchel signing.

    • WVRedlegs

      Dude you are so short-sighted. Like a broken record. Let me ask you:
      1. The KC Totals traded 3 top prospects for Johnny Cueto and won a World Series. How have those prospects done to date? Does KC regret that trade? A resounging no.
      2. Chicago Cubs have traded several top prospects and won a World Series. Had you heard from any of those prospects traded? Does Chicago regret any of those trades? Hardly.
      3. Houston Astros have traded several top prospects and won a World Series. Have you heard from any of those prospects they traded? Does Houston regret any of those trades? Doubtful.
      4. Boston Red Sox have traded several top prospects and just won a World Series. Have you heard much from any of those traded? Does Boston regret any of their trades? Doubtful again.
      I doubt very seriously that trading for Syndergaard would decimate the farm. Time to thin the prospect herd just a bit.
      You can stay in last place with this roster, and play for another top 10 draft pick. But I would like to see legitimate efforts to improve this team.
      On the off chance you are right, ask the Astros about trading top prospect for top pitching. You think they regret paying the price for Verlander?
      Your approach is foolish and is the best way for the Reds to stay in last place by hoarding prospects. The prior 4 World Series champions have all traded top prospects to win big. You might enjoy the view from the NLC cellar, but most do not.

  33. Still a Red

    Living in DC, I’ve been to many a game where Roark has pitched deep into the game with some success. Nats have screwed him of late, like they have some of their other pitchers. He’s got grit and I think could have 2-3 more good years in him. No its not the big deal some people seem to be looking for. But, fact is, the Reds got something for relatively nothing.

    • Indy Red Man

      Grit? Really? You must be a newbie. Welcome then:)

    • lwblogger2

      That’s my take. I like the move.