Washington Nationals: Tanner Roark a possible non-tender candidate

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 06: Tanner Roark #57 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park on June 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 06: Tanner Roark #57 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park on June 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals have some interesting decisions to make in the starting rotation this winter. Could Tanner Roark be non-tendered to clear space?

Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo has placed an emphasis on upgrading his rotation this offseason. One of the casualties of his mission could be Tanner Roark, who is viewed as a candidate to be non-tendered.

Roark is coming off of a largely poor 2018 season with the Nationals in which he went 9-15 with a 4.34 ERA. On the whole, he didn’t seem to be fooling manner hitters given that he recorded the second highest H/9 and HR/9 figures of his career, potentially leaving his rotation spot in jeopardy.

On Tuesday, MLBTradeRumors released its yearly list of players who could get that designation, which included two Nationals. Roark was the first name, and Sammy Solis was also included as another player who could be non-tendered.

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For a player to be non-tendered, they must be in their arbitration years and the team must choose not to tender them a contract by November 30th. The player would then be a free agent and able to sign anywhere they choose.

According to MLBTradeRumors Arbitration Projections, Tanner Roark could be in place to earn around $9.8 million in his final arbitration season this offseason, if he is indeed tendered. When you consider some of the other pitchers projected to make close to that figure, it doesn’t seem like fantastic value for someone who could be a bit of a wildcard in 2019.

In the same projections, James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners is predicted to get $9 million, Alex Wood of the Los Angeles Dodgers also has a $9 million projection and Jake Odorizzi of the Minnesota Twins is predicted to make $9.4 million. All three of those names would seem like much safer choices than Roark in 2019.

The Nationals would likely need to make a trade or swift free agent signing in order to non-tender Roark given the unproven options behind him. If the Nats non-tendered the right-hander without a replacement lined up, that would leave both Jefry Rodriguez and Erick Fedde potentially in rotation spots if the team failed to make any additions to the rotation.

Therefore, with free agency still only three weeks old, it’s highly unlikely Roark is non-tendered. That doesn’t mean he won’t be pitching in a different jersey next season though, as a trade could still happen to clear the salary for an upgrade.

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The fate of Tanner Roark is going to be fascinating to follow over the offseason. He could easily be the fourth or fifth starter for the Washington Nationals, but he could easily be pitching elsewhere come 2019.

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