The Reds had been clinging to the hope of buying this deadline season, but their recent skid could turn them into sellers prior to Wednesday. Now at 46-55, the National League’s third-worst record, the Reds sit a lofty 7 1/2 games out of wild-card position. We already know the club is willing to entertain offers for Raisel Iglesias as a result of its pre-deadline slide. Cincinnati also has at least a couple other pitchers generating interest in reliever Amir Garrett and starter Tanner Roark, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports (Twitter links).
“Many teams covet” the 27-year-old Garrett, Heyman writes, but the Reds are in the same boat. They’re actually more likely to trade Iglesias than Garrett, per Heyman. Garrett’s playing this season for a minimal salary and will do the same again in 2020 before potentially taking three trips through the arbitration process. Not only does Garrett bring four-plus years of team control to the table, but the left-hander has seemingly broken out this season.
Garrett fell flat as a starter in 2017, his rookie campaign, before faring far better as a reliever a year ago. The switch from the Reds’ rotation to their bullpen has led to a significant velocity increase for Garrett, who has averaged 95 mph on his fastball after clocking in just below 92 in his previous role.
During his debut as a reliever in 2018, Garrett registered a 4.29 ERA/3.89 FIP with 10.14 K/9, 3.57 BB/9 and a 38 percent groundball rate in 63 innings. That’s useful production, but Garrett has found another gear in 2019. Across 39 frames, he has pitched to a 1.85 ERA/3.09 FIP, and though his walk rate has soared to 5.08 per nine, Garrett’s strikeout and grounder marks have skyrocketed with it. Garrett has fanned 13-plus per nine and induced worm burners at a 53.8 percent clip. He has also stymied same- and opposite-handed hitters alike, evidenced by the .260 weighted on-base average lefties have managed off him and the .285 wOBA righties have put up. They’ve combined for a .274 wOBA, but Statcast’s xwOBA metric (.256) suggests Garrett has been even more dominant.
It’s no surprise the Reds want to keep Garrett, but there’s a strong argument it would make sense to trade Roark – a pending free agent who’s not a qualifying offer candidate. Along with the previously reported Phillies, the Yankees “have checked in on” Roark, according to Heyman. As Heyman notes, that may have been due diligence on the part of a Yankees team searching high and low for starting help.
Regardless of whether it’s the Yankees or someone else, it’s unlikely Cincinnati would have trouble finding a team for Roark. He is making a somewhat expensive $10MM salary, but Roark has justified the price tag this season. Since joining the Reds in a trade last winter, the 32-year-old ex-National has notched a 3.95 ERA/4.15 FIP with 8.92 K/9 and 2.86 BB/9 in 107 innings. There isn’t much difference between Roark’s bottom-line production in 2019 and the output that enabled him to total four seasons of at least 2.0 fWAR over the prior half-decade. He’s already at 1.8 in that category this year.