The Detroit Tigers traded right-hander Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals on Monday night in exchange for infielder Steve Lombardozzi, left-hander Ian Krol and minor-league lefty Robbie Ray. The deal was reported first by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.
First reaction: Great trade for the Nationals, who recently lost Dan Haren in free agency but now boast a starting rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Tanner Roark or Taylor Jordan and Fister. He has a 3.53 ERA in 127 career starts with the Tigers and Mariners, and went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA, 159 strikeouts and 44 walks in 208 2/3 innings in 2013. He also won Game 4 of the ALCS and has a 2.98 ERA in 48 1/3 career postseason innings.
Fister made $4 million in '13 and is eligible for arbitration until he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season. The Tigers were said to be shopping right-hander Max Scherzer this offseason, even though it always seemed unlikely he'd actually get moved. And any urgent need to clear money to sign Scherzer to a contract extension seemed to disappear once slugger Prince Fielder was traded.
So, what is Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski thinking? He must have decided that Rick Porcello, who is five years younger than Fister, is going to continue to improve. Porcello's strikeouts were up and his baserunners allowed were down in 2013. The Tigers also are reportedly considering adding left-hander Drew Smyly to the rotation. Detroit had an extra starter to deal, no matter what. But did they get enough value for Fister?
• Lombardozzi is 25, a switch hitter and a second baseman by trade. He'll back up Ian Kinsler and be insurance at third base in case Nick Castellanos doesn't contribute yet.
• Krol is 22, throws in the low '90s and could be Smyly's replacement in the pen. He struck out 22 in 28 innings in a stint with the Nats in '13.
• Ray probably is the key to the deal. He went 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA at Class AA Harrisburg, striking out 9.3 per nine innings. He had been listed as the Nats ' fifth-best prospect by Baseball America.
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