Around ninety minutes before he traded Tanner Roark to the Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters and told them he had nothing to share at the end of Day 3 of the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings.
“Nothing to report,” Rizzo said. “Nothing to report today.”
“There’s nothing imminent,” he added. “I’m not sure, but there’s nothing imminent at this time.”
An hour and a half later, Rizzo acquired a 25-year-old reliever, Tanner Rainey, sending Roark, 32, to the Reds, who see the right-hander as a middle of the rotation starter and anchor for their staff.
Asked if he was still on the lookout for starting pitching while everyone in the baseball world is out in Las Vegas, Rizzo said before the trade what he always says about starting depth.
“You never have enough starting pitching, and you never have enough depth. It takes 6-7 starters to get through a season, and we feel that we’re always on the lookout for that.”
On Tuesday, after addressing where the rumors which had the Nationals talking to teams about potentially dealing Roark had come from, Rizzo acknowledged he took a few phone calls after Patrick Corbin signed a 6-year/$140M free agent deal, with teams on the other side checking in on what they saw as a surplus of starters in D.C.
Were they to deal Roark, Rizzo said, they’d have to acquire starting pitching to make up for the loss of depth in a rotation that currently features Max Scherzer, Stephen Strabsurg, and Corbin with Erick Fedde and Joe Ross in the mix for the final spot or spots depending on the moves which follow last night’s trade.
“I think that we would certainly want to reinforce our rotation,” Rizzo explained.
“We’re always talking about depth, and to eliminate a pitcher like Roark, we would certainly like to strengthen that strength if we were to make a deal for him.”
“I thought we had a pretty good staff over there in D.C.,” Roark said after the trade was made official, “but they thought otherwise, and I don’t know what their plans are.
“So I’m just grateful to be a National and there were good times over there.”
Roark’s 2018 campaign ended with the righty (9-15) in 31 games (30 starts), over which he put up a 4.34 ERA, a 4.27 FIP, 50 walks (2.50 BB/9), 146 Ks (7.29 K/9), and a .262/.319/.422 line against in 180 1⁄3 IP.
Roark earned $6.475M on a one-year deal after he and the Nationals avoided arbitration last January, and he was projected to get a raise to around $10M in his final year of team control before free agency, something that concerned the Nationals, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
Cincinnati’s President of Baseball Operations, Dick Williams, said the $10M-ish salary that Roark is likely to get in arbitration (if it gets that far) is a big deal and the start of something different for the Reds.
“For us,” Williams said, “... for the guys that have followed our offseasons closely the last couple of years, there haven’t been a lot of commitments to players making this kind of money.
“So this is a significant shift for us. 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.
“We’re in that mode now. And we fully expect to make more deals. This is the first of more to come.”
It seems like there are going to be more moves to come for the Nationals too, who have to have something else coming for their rotation now, right? Do Rizzo and Co. have a plan to spend that $10M elsewhere this winter?
Do you expect the Nationals to add another starter or two before Opening Day?
There are already rumors about how Rizzo and Co. in the D.C. will bolster the rotation now that Roark is a Red...
#Nationals have discussed free-agent LHP Wade Miley as a possible replacement for Tanner Roark, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2018
Not that anyone needs to confirm @Ken_Rosenthal, but also just heard Wade Miley's name as one the Nats are considering. No sense yet of how strongly they are considering him. Lefty had a strong playoff showing, 2.57 ERA in 80 innings with Milwaukee last year.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) December 13, 2018
Nats had targeted Lance Lynn as a replacement for Tanner Roark, according to people familiar with their plans. Wouldn’t go to a third year, so Rangers got him. They are currently perusing the market for veteran starters.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) December 13, 2018