clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Washington Nationals’ new relief arm Tanner Rainey; Quick look at reliever acquired in trade for Tanner Roark...

Tanner for Tanner. Washington’s Nationals dealt Tanner Roark to the Cincinnati Reds last week. What did they get in reliever Tanner Rainey?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Winter Meetings wrapped up last week, the Washington Nationals dealt Tanner Roark and his projected $10M-ish salary for 2019 to the Cincinnati Reds in return for hard-throwing reliever Tanner Rainey in what appears to be the first Tanner-for-Tanner trade in MLB history.

Adam McInturff, of 2080 Baseball, has a scouting report on the reliever who’s coming to the Nationals...


Tanner Rainey worked exclusively in relief while in college, so it was a surprise when the Reds initially developed him as a starter after selecting him with the 71st overall pick in 2015. The rotation experiment was short-lived, and Rainey moved back to a ‘pen role fairly quickly and debuted in the big leagues last year. Cincinnati dealt the hard-throwing right-hander to Washington last week for RHP Tanner Roark.

Built sturdy and strong at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, Rainey has a power pitcher’s frame and the fastball to match. He’s not very athletic and mechanical effort causes control issues that have hampered Rainey his whole career. The fastball sits 96-to-97 mph and frequently touches higher, able to scrape triple-digits on his best bolts. His best off-speed is a high-80s slider that shows sharp action and gives a second pitch to miss bats. A firm changeup comes in at 88-to-91 mph, but given the speed of his fastball, the pitch has plenty of separation.

Rainey’s gaudy strikeout numbers are a result of his (mostly) two-pitch mix, with both a fastball and slider capable of missing bats. The velocity and plus stuff give him the tools to pitch high-leverage innings if he’s able to get the walks under control.


The Nationals haven’t been shy about adding salary commitments early in the offseason. Trading an established piece like Roark for an unproven ‘pen-only type like Rainey doesn’t match up player-for-player, but saving nearly $10M motivated the Nationals to make the move. Rainey will join a beefed up relief corps in 2019 at a team-friendly rate, coming with two options left and plenty of controllable seasons remaining.

A native of Washington, D.C., Adam will be periodically contributing scouting pieces on Nationals prospects for Federal Baseball. Currently, he’s the Assistant Director of Professional Evaluation at 2080 Baseball. Previously, Adam worked in the Baseball Operations departments of the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers after serving as a Senior Prospect Writer for Baseball Prospectus. You can follow him on Twitter: @2080adam. Adam can be reached at for all podcast and media requests.