Reds hit six homers, four off Dan Haren, in beating Nationals

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Sweeping the Marlins wasn’t much of a tuneup for tonight; the Nationals gave up a whopping six homers Friday in a 15-0 loss to the Reds.

Nationals pitchers had allowed just one run this season before Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart hit back-to-back jacks in the second inning tonight. Both would go deep again later in the contest, and Shin-Soo Choo and Xavier Paul added homers of their own in the rout.

Haren, making his regular-season Nationals debut, gave up four homers for the fifth time in his career. He’s never allowed more. His velocity hasn’t been what the Nationals were hoping for when they gave him a one-year, $13 million contract in the offseason, and he’s now given up 11 homers in 31 1/3 innings since the beginning of the spring.

The six homers was the most the Nationals have given up since the Expos moved to D.C. The franchise last surrendered six homers in a game against the Braves on July 7, 2004.

The Reds hit six homers for the first time since connecting on seven against the Padres on Aug. 13, 2011.

In addition to the barrage at the plate, the Reds got six scoreless innings from Homer Bailey. Cozart had his first career two-homer game, while Frazier delivered his second.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.