Before the July 31 trade deadline, RHP Tanner Roark was connected to the Philadelphia Phillies and seemed to be a good fit considering that trading for him theoretically wouldn’t have been going all-in for a team that likely was just competing for one of the National League Wild Card spots. Still, the long-time National would have bolstered a rotation that badly needed it. Ultimately, though, the Phillies passed on trading for the 32-year-old, who eventually was acquired by the Oakland Athletics.
It turns out that while Roark wouldn’t have had the same type of impact as someone like Zack Greinke – the top pitcher traded before the trade deadline – the Reds weren’t valuing him as just an innings eater either. In the latest At The Yard Podcast, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia says that in talks for Roark, the Reds sought 2016 No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak in return. Suffice it to say, the Phillies weren’t interested in meeting that asking price for Roark, who can become a free-agent at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
That’s not to say that Moniak is untouchable. Though he’s a former No. 1 overall pick, Moniak only checked in at No. 8 on MLB Pipeline‘s latest countdown of the Phillies top prospects. The 21-year-old slashed .252/.303/.439 with 11 home runs, 67 RBIs and 33 walks in 119 games for Double-A Reading in 2019. Those numbers don’t suggest that he won’t eventually be a major leaguer, but he certainly didn’t see the offensive explosion that some prospects do when they get the chance to play their home games at hitter-friendly FirstEnergy Stadium.
But with limited prospect capital, and no clear long-term plan in center field, it’s understandable that general manager Matt Klentak wasn’t interested in parting with Moniak for a rental.
Ultimately, the Phillies acquired LHP Jason Vargas from the New York Mets on July 29 for next to nothing. Vargas has underwhelmed since joining the Phillies, as he’s posted a 5.01 ERA and 4.59 FIP in eight starts since being acquired. Roark, meanwhile, was ultimately traded to the A’s for 22-year-old outfielding prospect Jameson Hannah, who is now the Reds No. 10 overall prospect. Roark has a 3.40 ERA and 4.82 FIP in seven starts with Oakland.
This offseason could potentially be flush with veteran pitching talent, as Houston Astros RHP Gerrit Cole, Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Hyun-jin Ryu, Washington Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg, San Francisco Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner, Minnesota Twins RHP Jake Odorizzi, Chicago Cubs LHP Cole Hamels and New York Mets RHP Zack Wheeler can all become free-agents. Adding front-line starting pitching talent to pair with RHP Aaron Nola will almost certainly be priority No. 1 for Klentak and company this offseason.
With that said, 2019 has shown that the Phillies likely need to make at least two additions to their starting rotation this offseason to compete in the National League East. If the Phillies decline Vargas’ $8 million option for 2020 – and maybe even if they pick it up – Roark could potentially be of interest in free-agency. He’s not a front-line starting pitcher, but he’s topped the 180 innings mark four times in his career, and the Phillies could certainly use a stabilizing force at the back-end of a rotation that’s likely to look very different in 2020.
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