The Cincinnati Reds traded one right-handed pitcher named Tanner for another right-handed pitcher named Tanner on Wednesday in their first deal at baseball’s winter meetings in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Reds deal Tanner Rainey to the Washington Nationals for Tanner Roark.
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Roark, 32, was 64-54 with a 3.59 ERA in six seasons with the Nationals. He started 141 games and made 31 relief appearances.
“He's a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter that just can come in and anchor our staff,” Reds General Manager Nick Krall said. “It's a good first step to improving our starting staff. And with what he brings to the table, it's the overall package of him being that middle-rotation guy.”
Rainey, 25, made eight relief appearances last season with the Reds and allowed 19 earned runs in seven innings, finishing with a 24.43 ERA. He pitched most of the season with Triple-A Louisville, where he was 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 44 relief appearances.
Last season, Roark was 9-15 with a 4.34 ERA in 30 starts and one relief appearance. He had 17 quality starts, ranking 12th in the National League.
“I would say from a big picture, we heard great things about his makeup,” said Dick Williams, Reds president of baseball operations, “but it's the track record that stands out, the durability, the fact that he's made the 30-plus starts pretty much each of the last five years, I think except for one. And 180-plus innings, and good performance. And kind of across the board, the walk rate, strikeout rates, ground ball. Keeping the ball in the park. Those kind of things.”
Roark reacted to the trade in an interview Wednesday night. The Reds provided a transcript.
Q: How are you?
A: Surprised but it's the name of the game. This is the way this business is. So I'm a Cincinnati Red now, so pretty excited.
Q: Did you sense when they acquired Corbin that this was something that could possibly happen with you?
A: No. I thought we had a pretty good staff over there in DC, 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.
Q: I know it happened like ten minutes ago. How do you think of your time as a National and how would you describe your experience there?
A: It was a great experience. I learned a lot from the veteran pitchers and position players and guys that were there when I first came up. And they taught me how to be professional. And it's taken me a long way. And I always remember certain things: To always be a professional. And I'll miss the guys, of course. But like I said, it's the name of the game. I have new teammates now, and I've got to face them.
Q: What do you know about the Reds and kind of where they are at this point of their cycle of trying to get in contention and things like that?
A: They can hit the ball. They have a tough lineup. I know that for sure. And also I'm excited to go in there and do my thing and just attack, attack, attack.
Q: Is one of the first things when we talk to any pitchers, pitching in Great American Ball Park, is there anything that you think of pitching in that park with its reputation?
A: I know what you want me to say. The ball flies. I feel like the ball flies everywhere nowadays. There's only a few ballparks in Major League Baseball that the ball doesn't fly or plays fair or is just huge. So it's not going to change the way I pitch. I'm still going to attack guys and pitch inside and get them uncomfortable. That's my game. So there's no need to change the way I pitch or try to trick guys. Just coming after you, and that's me.
Q: You had some big highs obviously in Washington. But you also, for whatever reason over the years, were a guy that they would sometimes bump out of the rotation. Obviously now even though they don't have over stock rotation, you're the guy they're trading. Do you hold any grudges against them the way they treated you at times, given your track record?
A: No, life's too short to hold grudges. But that's what they wanted to do, you know. If they can live with it, then they live with it, you know? They treated me great. But there were times to where I would be very frustrated and I'd get pissed off. But that made me stronger mentally and how to handle certain things like that. So it helped me.
Q: Do you have any relationship, do you know Derek Johnson at all, the new Reds pitching coach?
A: I do not, no. I'm sure he'll be calling me here pretty soon.
Q: Is it exciting knowing going to Cincinnati you'll be one of the top starters there, just going to that role as a front-line starter for them?
A: Yeah, I'm excited just to go there. I don't care about No. 1s. No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, it doesn't matter. After everybody has pitched the first five games, there is no more No. 1, you just keep going. So I don't care about being the oldest guy, oldest pitcher or starter or whatnot there. I'm just going to do -- I'm going to spread my knowledge and learn from these guys and get to know these guys. And I'm excited to get to know them.