In explaining the chatter about the Washington Nationals discussing trading Tanner Roark at the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on Tuesday night his phone started ringing as soon as the Nats signed free agent left-hander Patrick Corbin, with those teams that have reached out wondering if Rizzo and Co. were willing to deal from the starting depth on the roster.
“When we signed Corbin teams thought that we had a little bit of a surplus so they inquired about Roark,” Rizzo explained, “and the teams [were teams] that look favorably on a one-year guy that could help them, so we’ve spoken to a couple of teams about it and nothing serious or imminent that’s happening at this point.”
Roark, who has one year of team control (and arbitration-eligibility) remaining, is projected to earn around $10M in 2019, coming off a (9-15) campaign which saw him put up a 4.34 ERA, a 4.27 FIP, 50 walks (2.50 BB/9), 146 Ks (7.29 K/9), and a .257/.317/.415 line against in 30 starts and 180 innings pitched as a starter (with a 1⁄3 of an inning in relief), over which he was worth 1.9 fWAR.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that Roark’s projected salary was at least part of the reason the Nationals were listening to teams interested in the right-hander:
#Nationals GM Mike Rizzo likes Tanner Roark. But team not sure whether Roark’s 2018 performance justifies $10M salary in arb. Hence, open to moving Roark, as @Jeffpassan said. Could use money in other areas: SP, RP; 2B, backup 1B. Will lose punch if Harper leaves with Murphy.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2018
Rizzo said the fact that he received calls about Roark after Corbin’s deal was announced was pretty standard.
“Every move you make there’s a reaction from the industry,” he said, when asked if interest in the Nationals’ players overall was higher or lower this winter.
“As you add to your team, people call you for what they believe is some type of additional players that you could use. But no, it’s about the same. Teams know coming in here that we had done a lot of our work, so they’re mostly kicking the tires on the periphery of our roster and that type of thing, but we’ve gotten a good amount of calls about some of our players.”
At this point of the winter, and at the Winter Meetings, Rizzo added, the trade market is a little more vibrant than the free agent market after some of the available free agents were signed early this winter (including Trevor Rosenthal and Kurt Suzuki, both of whom signed with the Nationals).
“I think at this time of the offseason that’s often the case,” Rizzo said.
“Where you have your handful of really good free agents that go off the board, and you’ve got a couple of elite guys that it’s going to take a little while longer, so I think a lot of people do turn to the trade market to see what’s out there, and often if they don’t want to give what it takes in the trade market they often go back to the free agent market, so I think it’s fairly typical.”
He also stressed that though there are plenty of conversations with everyone in the baseball world gathered in one place this week, the Nationals, who added Rosenthal and Suzuki, Yan Gomes, Corbin, and Kyle Barraclough early this winter, can wait and see if the right deal is out there to address their remaining roster needs, and sometimes you go into the season and see what you have and make moves, if necessary, at the non-waiver or waiver deadline to shore up the roster.
“You could go out and attack,” Rizzo said, “... and get everything that you think you need to start the season, but it’s often wiser to see what you have throughout the season and make your adjustments as the season progresses.”
Will they find an additional starter this winter?
How about that left-handed bench bat/backup first baseman (who can play some second)?
And the back of the bullpen? Is that set in their mind? There are still rumors coming out of Las Vegas: