Tanner Rainey Excited For His New Opportunity

Six-foot-2, 235-pound righthanded reliever Tanner Rainey will bring his triple-digit fastball to a new organization this spring training, and he’s looking forward to the opportunity.

The Nationals sent starter Tanner Roark, who had won 64 games in his six years with Washington, to the Reds in exchange for Rainey. In 2018, Rainey struggled in his major league debut, but he went 7-2, 2.65 with 65 strikeouts in 51 innings at Triple-A Louisville.

“Obviously I’m hoping, number one, to be in Washington doing whatever I can to contribute to the team winning—whether it’s in middle relief or later,” Rainey said. “Other than that, the game is the same.”

Rainey, 26, was a supplemental second-round pick in 2015 out of West Alabama, where he was an all-region choice as a power-hitting first baseman and as a closer. He had two big years with the Tigers after playing sparingly for two seasons at Southeastern Louisiana.

After starting for two years in the Reds’ organization, Rainey returned to a relief role and thrived. His fastball has topped 100 mph on occasion each of the past two seasons, and he usually throws it in the 97-98 mph range. His slider sits at 87-88 mph unless it merges into more of a cutter at 91-92 mph.

Rainey used a curveball and changeup as a starter, and he’s planning to mix in a few changeups this season. In his seven major league innings with Cincinnati, he had a 24.43 ERA. As a minor leaguer, he’s 17-17, 4.22 with 11.1 strikeouts and 5.3 walks per nine innings.

“The biggest thing about me being a starter (for his first two minor league seasons) is that it was kind of the same as when I transferred to West Alabama,” Rainey said. “It gave me more reps, which has really helped me.”

Rainey grew up in Folsom, La., and played mostly infield at St. Paul’s School in Covington, La. He says he pitched about 10 innings in high school and never even threw a bullpen.

“I played mostly third base and some first base—and occasionally shortstop, but I’m definitely not a shortstop,” he said.

Instead, Rainey gives the Nationals’ organization another hard thrower who has learned the role of professional reliever.

“I really haven’t had any issues—maybe soreness here or there,” Rainey said. “For the most part, I’ve always been able to go back-to-back games, or sometimes three days in a row or four (days) out of five if needed.”


— The Nationals sent middle infielder Andruw Monasterio to the Indians to complete the trade for catcher Yan Gomes. Monasterio, 21, hit .308/.404/.359 in 39 at-bats with high Class A Potomac after being dealt from the Cubs’ system for second baseman Daniel Murphy last August.

— The organization added 25-year-old center fielder Chuck Taylor in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. Taylor hit .297/.377/.376 in 502 at-bats for Double-A Arkansas in 2018. Meanwhile, catcher Alejandro Flores went from the Nationals to the Astros in the same minor league phase.

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