Veteran Roark joins beefed up staff

Righty acquired from Reds to join new pitchers Bailey, Diekman

August 1st, 2019

OAKLAND -- Even after pulling off trades for and earlier in the month, the A’s remained hopeful of adding another pitcher to the mix as they gear up for another postseason race. They found one in .

Just a few hours before Wednesday’s 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline, the A’s struck a deal with the Reds for the 32-year-old right-hander. Oakland is sending its eighth-ranked prospect, outfielder Jameson Hannah, to Cincinnati.

Hannah was the A’s second-round selection in the 2018 Draft and hit .283 with two home runs and 31 RBIs in 92 games with Class A Advanced Stockton. He was their highest-rated outfield prospect per MLB Pipeline, but the A’s have built up solid outfield depth in the organization over the past few years, with outfielders Austin Beck, Lazaro Armenteros and Luis Barrera still among their Top 15 overall prospects.

The A’s will also receive cash to help cover a portion of the remaining salary for Roark, who is a free agent after this season. He is making $10.1 million this season.

“I like how he’s pitched this year,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “He’s a guy with a five-pitch mix. In the past has been a ground-ball guy, which works with our defense. He’s tended more to fly balls this year, that works well in this park. He throws strikes. I think he’s a good fit for our club.”

Roark is 6-7 with a 4.24 ERA in 21 starts this season. He has upped his strikeout totals to a career-high 8.8 per nine innings and, like most pitchers who join the A's, figures to benefit from moving to the spacious outfield and foul ground of the Coliseum.

Spending his first six big league seasons with the Nationals before landing with the Reds in a December 2018 trade, Roark is 70-61 with a 3.66 ERA in 203 games (162 starts) over seven seasons. He also brings some postseason experience, having allowed two earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in one start during the 2016 National League Division Series against the Dodgers. He also made two appearances out of the bullpen in the 2014 NLDS.

With the A’s in control of the second American League Wild Card entering Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers, Roark will be thrust into the middle of a playoff race.

"I knew there was the possibility of being traded. That's how the game is,” Roark said. “I'm excited for it. The [A's] are playing really good baseball and right in the Wild Card hunt, so I'm excited to be a part of that."

A part of the 2014 and 2015 Nationals clubs managed by A’s third base coach Matt Williams, Roark drew rave reviews from his former manager. Former A’s starter Sonny Gray, who was a teammate of Roark’s this year in Cincinnati, also reached A’s manager Bob Melvin to give his old manager a breakdown of what to expect from his new starter.

“Sonny Gray called me about a minute after the trade to give me his take on it,” Melvin said. “A lot of positive input from guys that have been with him or played with him. This is a guy who gets after it. He works quickly, which the fielders enjoy. A nice addition for us at the end.”

“Matt Williams had him in Washington and loved the way he competes,” Forst said. “He throws strikes and goes after guys.”

Even with the impending return of 2018 rotation anchor Sean Manaea, who is expected to be called up from his rehab assignment after one more start with Triple-A Las Vegas next week, the A's believe there is no such thing as too much starting pitching depth. If there's one thing Roark is sure to bring, it's durability. He's managed to remain off the injured list to this point in his career.

“We’re in a lot better shape than we were at the All-Star break,” Forst said. “We went into the All-Star break worried about what happens if we have an injury or how does our rotation work, and I feel a lot better about it now. “

The stories of how a player finds out about trades can often be quite entertaining, and Roark's is a classic.

Set for a road trip to play the Braves, Roark told Cincinnati reporters he was going to drive six hours to Atlanta, where he makes his offseason home, in order to drop off the family car with his wife, Amanda. About 20 minutes into the drive, Roark made a pit stop at an Arby's and decided to snack on a Beef 'n Cheddar with curly fries when his phone began to blow up with news of the trade to Oakland.

"I was sitting in an Arby's parking lot and started hearing chatter and all that stuff," Roark said. "I finally realized I probably should come back if everybody is texting me about it."

While getting him up to speed on the upcoming matchups as he adjusts to a new league is likely first on the agenda, Melvin, a known foodie who enjoys frequenting some of the top restaurants around the country during road trips, will also make sure to recommend some new dining establishments for the newcomer.

“I’ll probably have something to say about that,” Melvin said. “It’s not an awful place to be, but we have some Michelin-star places around here, whether here in East Bay or across the bridge, we can probably find him a spot to get a quick meal.”