Cincinnati Reds: Should Tanner Roark be traded or signed long-term?

CINCINNATI, OHIO - MAY 19: Tanner Roark #35 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - MAY 19: Tanner Roark #35 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds have a question to answer regarding Tanner Roark. Is he a trade chip at the deadline or part of the long-term solution in the rotation?

As the end of July looms, so does MLB’s trade deadline. For the Cincinnati Reds and pitcher Tanner Roark, does the trade deadline look different than what it did at the beginning of the week? In light of Roark’s performance on Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Reds have a tough decision to make regarding the right-hander before next Wednesday’s deadline.

When the Reds traded for Roark in December, it was a subtle signal that the front office was somewhat serious about improving their standing in the very competitive NL Central Division. The Reds did not give up much at all for Roark, trading reliever Tanner Rainey to the Washington Nationals.

With the addition of Roark and then the blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Christmas certainly came early for Reds Country. Their team was definitely the talk of Major League Baseball for that week in December.

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At the time, Roark was coming off of a somewhat disappointing season with the Washington Nationals with a 9-15 record, 4.34 ERA, but a solid 1.281 WHIP. He did have a reputation of being an innings eater; something the Reds starting pitching rotation certainly needed.

Collectively, the Reds fanbase knew that Roark just had one year remaining on his contract and most likely it would be just a one-year stint in the Queen City. Roark’s career numbers of 202 games, 1042 innings pitched, a 3.63 ERA, and an impressive 838 strikeouts certainly are attractive to any MLB team.

Looking towards the end of the season, the Reds obviously have a number of players whose contracts will expire. Yasiel Puig, Scooter Gennett, José Iglesias, and the aforementioned Tanner Roark will all be free agents after 2019.

Any number of those players would be an asset to a contending organization looking to either add offensive punch or, in the case of Roark, a steady starting pitcher who happens to also have playoff experience. However, before the Cincinnati Reds easily part ways with him, should they instead look to extend him for a couple of more seasons?

Personally, I am an advocate for Tanner Roark to be extended. The trade market for the right-hander could yield a MLB-ready player and a couple of decent prospects. However, Roark has been a very nice anchor to the middle of the Cincinnati Reds rotation with a 6-6 record, 3.95 ERA, but most importantly a very impressive 107 innings pitched with 106 strikeouts.

What does an extension look like for Tanner Roark? His current contract of one-year/$10M is a slight discount compared to other starting pitchers with similar stats. Kicking this around amongst some of the other writers at Blog Red Machine, there is a consensus that a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $25M would be appropriate for a pitcher of his notoriety.

A contract like that would give Roark an average annual value (AAV) of $12.5M. That’s right in line a few of the contracts that were signed last offseason. The Texas Rangers gave a 3-year/ $30M contract to Lance Lynn and Charlie Morton signed a 2-year/$25M deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

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The Cincinnati Reds still could opt to trade Tanner Roark should the right combination of players be packaged for him. There are certainly needs in the both the bullpen and a controllable hitter would be very nice. However, it would be an encouraging to see this grizzled veteran extended in order to keep this upstart starting rotation together for a few more seasons.