It has been one year since the Nats and Reds pulled off the rare Tanner for Tanner trade. Who won?
Earlier in the week, we took a look back at the Adam Eaton trade, and today we will be going over the Tanner for Tanner trade. Entering the 2019 offseason, the Nats were coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign. They missed the playoffs after being favorites to win the World Series and were stuck in the shadow of Bryce Harper’s free agency decision. Instead of waiting for Harper to make his decision, the Nationals decided to be proactive. One of the big decisions they made was they shipped off Tanner Roark to the Cinncinatti Reds who was in the last year of his deal. In return, the Nats received the young fireballer, Tanner Rainey. With the money the Nats saved by trading Roark, they signed Anibal Sanchez to a two-year deal.
Roark played half a season with the Reds before they flipped him at the trade deadline to the Oakland Athletics for prospect Jameson Hannah. Rainey spent the majority of the 2019 season with the Nats in the majors and was apart of the World Series team. He was inconsistent but, played a part in stabilizing the Nats bullpen down the stretch. In essence, the Reds basically flipped Rainey for an intriguing outfield prospect while the Nationals received a relief project.
The Nationals Perspective
Rainey was known for his fastball that can reach high 90’s but, lacked control. The righty made his MLB debut in 2018 with the Reds and pitched in seven innings where he struggled. He pitched to a tune of a 23.43 ERA, with seven strikeouts. Despite his struggles, the Nats decided to pull the trigger on the trade due to his upside. Rainey started the 2019 season in the minors and wasn’t called up to the majors till May. There he joined the bullpen and faltered in the first half of the season. In 19 innings, he went 1-3, with a 4.474 ERA, while holding opposing batters to a .188 average. Rainey struck out 27, but walked 14 and gave up three homers. While he could bring the heat, Rainey still suffered from control issues.
After the All-Star break, he was able to turn things around and became a reliable piece in the bullpen. In 29.1 innings, he went 1-0, with a 3.38 ERA, while still holding opposing batters to a .188 average. Rainey walked 24 but struck out 47, which showed Rainey was working on his command. The 26-year-old still walked batters at a high rate, but he was able to increase his strikeout rate. He finished his first full season in the majors with a 13.78 K/9 rate, and a 1.95 K/BB rate.
Rainey still walks too many, but is entering his age 27 season and has only one full year under his belt. He should be leaned on to man the middle innings for the team and help bridge the gap from the starter, to the trio of Will Harris, Sean Doolittle, and Daniel Hudson.
The Reds Perspective
The Reds traded for Roark in an attempt to bolster their rotation so they could compete in a competitive NL Central. Roark was no longer the pitcher who could post a sub-three ERA, but he was still reliable due to being an innings eater. He pitched in 110.1 innings with the team before he was traded. Roark went 6-7, with 108 strikeouts, and an ERA of 4.24. Roark was a big part of the Reds rotation ranking in the top ten in majors in ERA.
At the trade deadline, the Reds flipped him when they realized they were out of playoff contention. In return, they received prospect Jameson Hannah. Hannah plays center and has exceptional speed, making him a threat in the field and on the bases.
Before he was traded, at High A, Hannah was hitting .283, with two homers, three triples, and 31 RBI’s. Hannah faltered at High A with the Reds after the trade. In 18 games with them, he hit .223. A full season in the Reds minor league season should have Hannah back to where he was. He is only 22 and is projected by MLB Pipeline to be MLB ready in 2021. Hannah should bring extra outfield depth to the Reds.
Who won the trade?
When the trade went down, many Nats fans were upset due to the team shipping out an established rotational piece for a bullpen project. Rainey was awful in his first callup to the majors while Roark could be leaned on to throw 180 innings a year. As the season went on, the trade took on a different perspective.
Roark’s departure led way to Anibal Sanchez joining the Nationals rotation. He played a big part in the Nats turning around the season and was crucial in the playoff run. Rainey showed promise in his first full season in the league, and if he lowers his walks could be an excellent reliever. He is only 27, hasn’t reached arbitration yet, and has six years left on his contract.
Roark only lasted half a season in Cincinnati before he was shipped out for an outfield prospect in Jameson Hannah. Now that the Reds are all in win-now mode, they need bullpen depth. Instead, they lost Rainey for an outfield prospect. The problem with that is the Reds already have a crowded outfield.
Hannah is a few years from being MLB ready while Rainey is contributing out of the bullpen for the Nats. With the Nats in win-now mode, it is safe to say they won the trade.