One of the Reds players who has been mentioned in the baseball press as a possible trade item is Tanner Roark. Roark is due to become a free agent at the end of the 2019 season. And he’s the subject of our Reds Question of the Week. But first, the scale:
(1) = Walt Jocketty leaves Cincinnati for Del Boca Vista to get away from his front office staff right at the trade deadline, looks through his Rolodex for former Cardinals and then forgets his flip-phone at the condo when he takes long walks on the beach;
(10) = the intolerably annoying guy in your fantasy league who emails you several times a day with ridiculously imbalanced trade offers.
Question: On a scale of 1-to-10, how aggressive should the Reds be at the trade deadline trying to trade Tanner Roark?
Ashley Davis: On a scale of 1-to-10, the Reds’ aggressiveness to trade Tanner Roark should be at a six. Do I think the Reds want to trade Roark and mess with the chemistry of the pitching staff? No, but he’s a prime candidate because he’s a free agent after 2019 and because he’s pitched well. Roark is a big reason why the Reds are still in the playoff race, but I have a hard time believing that a team in a better position for the playoffs than the Reds wouldn’t be interested in a starting pitcher (*ahem* Milwaukee Brewers). However, the Reds also aren’t just going to give Roark away for nothing. They will explore all options and offer him to teams for a controllable major league player. If the front office doesn’t find what they want, they’ll keep him through the end of the season.
Doug Gray: I’ll cut it right down with middle and go with a five. I don’t think they should be actively dialing every number in their rolodex forcibly trying to move him. This team is currently “in it”. While I’m still not convinced they are capable of winning the division, this team does have talent and worse teams have gone on runs that would put the Reds where they need to be. Tanner Roark is a guy who in the past has been solid, but unspectacular.
This year, he’s been significantly better than that, and it’s not exactly lucky. His strikeout rate is the best of his career, he’s not walking guys, and he’s kept the ball in the ballpark. With that said, I wouldn’t hang up if someone called and asked about him, either. He’s a free agent after the season, and for as good as he’s been, he’s still your #3 starter right now on a team that is in last place – even if they are within striking distance of first. End of the day, I believe the Reds should try to win as many games as possible in 2019. But if someone REALLY wants to acquire Tanner Roark, I’m listening.
Wes Jenkins: 8 with a flex plan to 4 — So much depends on Alex Wood, plagued by back pain, still on rehab assignment. If Alex Wood is healthy reasonably soon after the All-Star Break, then all systems go, trade Roark now. Roark has some value given how well he’s been pitching and I see little chance that the Reds re-sign him.
However if Alex Wood still needs time or experiences another setback, then the Reds should just hold onto Roark and push for the Wild Card. Having a team playing meaningful baseball games is more important than whatever prospect the team might get back. If Wood can give us meaningful games, then sure trade Roark. If he can’t, then we plow on full bore with the rotation that’s gotten us this far.
Steve Mancuso: The correct answer is 9.673. Roark has been lucky with home runs. For pitchers with 100 batted balls, he’s in the top quarter in percent with exit velocity > 95 mph. Roark’s wOBA is .311 and xwOBA is .332. His xFIP is 4.42, SIERA 4.41. The correction has already started. More is on the way. Remember when Roark was the guy who had given up 2 homers in his first 11 starts and people were saying [narrative!] the way he pitched suppressed home runs? Well, Roark has given up 8 in his last 6 starts, including 3 in his most recent, and surprise, that thing people said was never true.
Tanner Roark (32) is a solid pitcher. There’s demand for solid rotation guys. But Roark has had an overachieving first half considering the underlying facts. Sell high. Pray there’s a front office that doesn’t chuckle when you mention ERA as a reliable metric. [This is not me advocating the Reds selling. They should buy and sell.] The Reds can replace Roark with (a) Alex Wood [career xFIP of 3.49], (b) Lucas Sims, or (c) a new multi-year pitcher acquired at the trade deadline.
Possible trade matches: Oakland (Tanner Anderson, P); Washington (Tanner Rainey, P); Baltimore (Tanner Scott, P); Kansas City (Jake Tanner Diekman, P); and 22 minor league players named Tanner.
Matt Wilkes: The Reds are in a weird spot because one extended run puts them right in the thick of the playoff race. But are they realistically capable of it? I’m still not convinced. They have a lot of talent, to be sure. The pitching has been outstanding. But the offense has been anemic for most of the year. To me, this feels like a competitive team that isn’t quite ready for a postseason run.
I think that means they should look to sell impending free agents. That said, they’re in a position where they don’t need to give players away just to get anything in return. Teams in the hunt are always looking for pitching as the trade deadline nears. While Roark won’t get the Reds a huge haul, he may fetch a decent prospect or a player with several years of team control left. Maybe a team desperate for pitching overpays. The Reds would be negligent not to at least feel out the market and pounce if a good offer comes along. Given recent history with Matt Harvey, Zack Cozart, and others, I don’t expect a Roark trade to happen if the Reds remain within 4 or 5 games of the Wild Card race—even if eight teams remain in front of them.