With Tanner Roark off to a strong start as part of the Washington Nationals' rotation this past May, Nats' General Manager Mike Rizzo talked in an MLB Network Radio interview about the deal that brought the Texas Rangers' 2008 25th Round pick into the organization.
In July of 2010, Rizzo sent veteran infielder Cristian Guzman to the Rangers in exchange for Roark and right-hander Ryan Tatusko.
Guzman played 15 games for the Rangers that season, in his last major league campaign. Tatusko worked his way up to Triple-A in the Nationals' system, but never broke through, and he finished the 2014 season in Korea.
Roark, on the other hand, after 45 games and 36 starts in the majors, has been a sort-of-out-of-nowhere success story for Washington.
The 28-year-old right-hander has posted a 2.57 ERA, a 3.25 FIP, 50 walks (1.78 BB/9) and 178 Ks (6.35 K/9) in 252 ⅓ IP, and he spent all of last season in the Nats' rotation.
"Tanner Roark is an extremely good story for scouting and player development," Rizzo explained last May.
"Our professional scouts, Jay Robertson in particular, and our scouting department identified him in a trade that we made a while back. It was a low-level trade with Cristian Guzman and got ourselves two good arms that we really liked and player development has really allowed this kid to step to the next level."
The Rizzo-led Nationals made the second relatively "low-level" deal with the Rangers of his tenure this winter when they shipped left-hander Ross Detwiler to Texas in return for 21-year-old minor league infielder Chris Bostick and 22-year-old right-handed prospect Abel de Los Santos.
As the Nats' GM explained to reporters at NatsFest, they acquired two players they've scouted extensively.
"They were both seen on multiple occasions this year and throughout their careers," Rizzo said.
"Bostick is an offensive middle infielder. We feel that his power is on the come. He hit 11 HRs last year. He's an athletic player, runs well, has enough arm to play shortstop and a very versatile athlete that can play both shortstop and second base.
"[Abel] de Los Santos is a starter-made-reliever and since he's gone to the bullpen his velocity and stuff has spiked. Had a terrific year last year and we think that he'll come really quickly."
Potomac Nationals' skipper Tripp Keister, who managed against both now-former Rangers' prospects in the Carolina League in 2014, told Baseball America's Lacy Lusk, as quoted in an article yesterday, that he was impressed with the return the Nationals received on Detwiler.
"[Bostick's] best tool is obviously his bat, but he’s really good defensively,'" Keister tells BA's writer. "'He killed us all summer, too. He played mostly second, but he’s definitely athletic enough to move all around the field.'"
As for de Los Santos, Keister says he has a "really big arm," a mid-to-high 90s fastball and he, "'... showed some flashes of a really good breaking ball.'"
"'I hated to see Ross go,'" Keister says, "'but it was a great job by our pro scouts to get who they got.'"
Mr. Lusk's colleague at Baseball America, John Manuel, was equally impressed with the return Rizzo and the Nats received in the three-team trade with the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays that sent Steven Souza and minor league lefty Trevor Ott to the Rays and brought Padres' prospects Trea Turner (SS) and Joe Ross (RHP) to the Nationals.
In ranking the prospects who changed organizations after the Winter Meetings and before the holidays, Manuel put Turner, a 21-year-old, 2014 1st Round pick who can't officially be traded until mid-June, at no.1 on the Top 10 list.
While noting that Turner does not have a big arm, which may have led some in San Diego to think he doesn't profile as a major league shortstop, Manuel writes that he and the Nationals, apparently, are, "all-in on Turner and his combination of wiry strength, savvy, explosive speed and off-the-charts makeup."
And getting Ross, 21, in the deal as well, "was a master stroke," according to Manuel, like getting, "Doug Fister for spare parts from Detroit," or, "Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps from the Twins," except, "This may be the best one."
Of course, Souza is ranked second on Manuel's list, but Souza was, at best, fourth on the depth chart in the outfield in D.C. and 25-going-on-26 with just 26 major league plate appearances on his resume.
Souza will likely get a chance to play every day with the Rays, and the Nationals added what they seem to think is a potential successor at short should Ian Desmond depart via free agency and a hard-throwing starter who enjoyed success at Double-A as a 21-year-old.
Nice work by Rizzo so far this winter... now about that second baseman?