Oakland Athletics: Breaking down the trade for starting pitcher Tanner Roark

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 30: Tanner Roark #35 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on July 30, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 30: Tanner Roark #35 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on July 30, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Athletics made a semi-major trade deadline splash when they traded for Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tanner Roark to sure up their rotation.

The Oakland Athletics made it clear that addressing their pitching was an obvious point of emphasis at this year’s trade deadline. And that emphasis was only further accentuated when the team traded for Cincinnati Reds starter Tanner Roark.

The deal was made official just hours before the deadline and was initially reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. This comes on the heels of the team trading for two other pitchers in the days and weeks leading up to July 31st.

Oakland acquired veteran starter Homer Bailey a couple of weeks ago and traded for left-handed reliever Jake Diekman two weeks later. Now, Roark makes it a trio of pitchers acquired by the A’s prior to the trade deadline.

While Roark wasn’t the flashiest of big-name starters on the market, he gives the A’s a reliable, proven arm to sure up their starting rotation. While Mike Fiers and Brett Anderson have done their best to hold down the rotation, it was fair to question the depth of the staff heading into the fall.

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Chris Bassitt has pitched surprisingly well and the entire rotation has exceeded expectations, but it was hard to trust these group of starters in a potential postseason run. Besides, the depth behind them, if injury were to strike, would have been almost nonexistent.

Did we really want to see Tanner Anderson or Paul Blackburn back in the rotation if one of the A’s starters were to be injured?

Roark gives the team some necessary depth and brings with him prior success even if his 2019 season hasn’t been as good as some of his previous campaigns. Actually, it’s been more so a poor month that has ballooned Roark’s ERA.

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The former Washington Nationals starter saw his ERA skyrocket from 3.36 towards the end of June to the 4.24 ERA it sits at now. That’s definitely a cause for concern, but the A’s will be hoping that that’s more of a fluke than a true sign of things to come.

What is encouraging is Roark’s career-high strikeout rate of 8.8 per nine innings and his still-low home run rate of 1.1. While he’s been more of a fastball pitcher over the last few years, he’s found a way to mix in his slider and curveball to get him a few swing-throughs.

Now, Roark will just be a rental as his contract is set to expire at the end of the season which could mean that people will have a problem with the price that the team gave up.

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The A’s opted to trade 21-year-old outfield prospect Jameson Hannah who was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in Oakland’s system by Fangraphs. Hannah’s most proven trait is his top-notch speed although it hasn’t translated to success on the basepaths just yet.

Playing with High-A Stockton this season, Hannah has just six successful stolen bases on 13 attempts. The young outfielder was also slashing .283/.341/.381 with two home runs and 31 RBI at the time of the trade.

And ultimately, with the A’s large collection of outfield depth, it’s unlikely that Hannah would have made any significant impact anytime in the near future.

Roark will join a rotation already consisting of Fiers, Anderson, Bassitt, and Bailey while the odd man out will likely be 26-year-old Daniel Mengden. While Mengden hasn’t exactly been bad, it’s clear that Roark is an improvement.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the A’s option Mengden to Triple-A Las Vegas in a corresponding move very soon.

With the returns of Sean Manaea and Marco Estrada imminent but still uncertain, it made sense to go out and acquire a proven arm such as Roark.

While we should still their returns and we could see the debut of top pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo, this at least gives the team some stability for the time being.

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And for a contending team making a playoff push in August, stability is key. Hopefully, Roark could be just that for the A’s and more as we enter the final two months of the season.