Tigers trade Doug Fister to Nationals for three players

The Tigers are no longer a team with six starting pitchers for five spots. What they are without Doug Fister in their rotation remains to be seen. Detroit pulled off its second major trade in two weeks Monday night, sending Fister to the Nationals for lefty reliever Ian Krol, infielder/outfielder Steve Lombardozzi and lefty starting prospect Robbie Ray.

The move adds more flexibility on the Tigers payroll while adding some badly-needing young arms to a Tigers system that had been low on left-handed pitching. The immediate impact on the Tigers for next year, however, might not be known until the Tigers are done dealing this offseason.

It’s not a deal that addresses several short-term needs, as might have been anticipated had Detroit dealt reigning AL Cy Young winner and potential 2014 free agent Max Scherzer as rumors suggested earlier this offseason. Instead, the return package fills some smaller holes now and some long-term concerns later, while providing another sign the Tigers will try to keep the rest of their rotation intact, Scherzer included.

Fister was one of three Tigers starters who were arbitration eligible with free agency on the horizon. Like fellow starter Rick Porcello, he was two years away from free agency with a salary that was heading up. He was projected to make $6.9 million in arbitration according to MLB Trade Rumors.

However, Fister delivered as a Tiger, going 32-20 with a 3.29 ERA in 68 Tiger starts and two relief appearances. His 8-1 record and 1.79 ERA down the stretch in 2011 reflected his significant role in helping the Tigers to their first of three consecutive American League Central titles. Those numbers leveled out over the next two seasons, but his 14-9 record, 3.67 ERA and 208 2/3 innings pitched this year reflected a workhorse role within a loaded Tigers rotation.

In the postseason, meanwhile, Fister was a cornerstone of the dominant pitching that led Detroit to four postseason series wins over the last three years. His 3-2 record and 2.98 ERA in eight career playoff appearances includes a sub-2 ERA in the ALCS and World Series. He picked up only one playoff win the last two years, but delivered six quality starts in as many outings in that stretch, including six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts against the Red Sox.

Drew Smyly, who spent this past season as a lefty setup reliever, will slot into Fister’s old rotation spot, giving Detroit a lefty starter. With his pre-arbitration salary, the move will shed about $6.4 million from team payroll. The rest of the rotation is expected to remain intact for next year while the Tigers try to pursue long-term deals.

Smyly’s relief role, meanwhile, will be filled by Krol, who broke into the big leagues this year as a young lefty setup man. The 22-year-old wasn’t a specialist, though left-handed hitters batted .220 (11-for-50) against him with one home run, four walks and 10 strikeouts.

Lombardozzi is a switch-hitting, contact-batting role player with decent speed who can play infield and outfield. He batted .259 with 15 doubles, two home runs and 22 RBIs in 118 games for the Nationals in 2013.

The key arm in the deal, however, might end up being Ray, a hard-throwing lefty starter who ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the Nationals system from MLB.com’s midseason prospect rankings. The 22-year-old went 11-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 27 starts between high Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, allowing 116 hits over 142 innings with 62 walks and 160 strikeouts.

Ray isn’t expected to compete for a Major League job right away anywhere on the staff, likely needing more seasoning at Double-A this coming year. In a system that has traded away several starting prospects over the past few years, however, he provides a much-needed youth infusion.


Washington is getting one cool dude and a great pitcher! Will miss you, Mr. Fister!!

Go Tigers!!!!!!

Has Mr. I turned off the cash spigot, or are the Tigers spending “smarter” money and just not money? Are they shedding salary for one final blockbuster FA bomb?

Robby Ray’s FIP in AA was higher than Doug Fisters FIP in the MLB in 2013.

and those nine home runs in just 84 innings were good for the 11th most in the league (Robby Ray)

First off, it’s always wise to withhold judgement until DD is done dealing. That said..
As a Nationals fan, I’m going WOO HOO!
As a Tigers fan (as you know is my main gig) I’m going WTH?
Kathy asked about these guys we’re getting. Lombardozzi is a switch hitter and pretty scrappy and………….that’s about it. If I saw Ian Kroll pitch this past summer I don’t remember him. Maybe I missed his 27 innings of work. Don’t know anything about Ray.
I’m as confused as everyone else over this one.

And Doug Fister was only one of my most favorite guys on the whole damn team.

Mine too, damnit. I hope these new guys either do really well, or that Dave is getting ready for a blockbuster trade of some kind, because losing Fister really sucks.

Slight upgrades to Phil Coke and Don Kelly; and a prospect. yippie!

Thought we would give it one last hurrah in 2014, now I am not so sure. Looks like DD might be re-loading. I really liked Fister, and I will miss watching him pitch. Thanks Doug….

I’ll miss Fister for sure. He did a hell of a job in a Detroit uniform. I’m hoping for at least a chance one of these guys from Washington will pan out for us. We still need a hefty lefty bat in the lineup.

Bummed…….one of my favorites as well. And he was a runner.

This is a horrible, horrible trade for the Tigers. It fills no needs for 2014. Krol doesn’t begin to replace Smyly in the bullpen. Lombardozzi is no better than Santiago. Ray is a prospect who needs work before he’ll be in the majors.

The Tigers have so far downgraded their lineup, their rotation, their bullpen, and even their incredibly weak bench this off season.

Even if there are more moves to come, there is no excuse in getting so little for Doug Fister. Everything written by analysts from Fangraphs to ESPN to Baseball America is true. This is a major lopsided deal for the Nationals. Horrible trade for the Tigers.

maybe DD is trying to lower the expectations and thus the pressure on the new coach

Or putting him in the same place where Trammell was in 2003? doomed to fail

this trade was almost the mirror image of the move used to acquire Fister

DD is firing with blanks now. He’s got nothing to trade. It was imperative he fill a hole with a deal including a starter. There is argument that the additional money will set up a FA signing. Well not really. Any free agents we could use are going to cost a heckuva lot more. A Beltran deal is probably the worst thing DD could do. I hope he is not contemplating that one seriously.
I thought that of all the starters, Fister would be the one to trade. He would bring value but he is also older than Porcello and more hittable than the Big 3.
I don’t get this trade at all. Not at all.

Could this deal end up being ok? Yeah? Will it? Not likely. It will most likely end up being an awful, awful deal. In the long run it will likely only be good as a salary dump, and why the heck would you ever dump a relatively cheap pitcher like Fister in a salary dump?

Ten players on the forty man roster do not have assigned numbers. Be sure to get those scorebooka for the spring training games. Best of luck Doug Fister and thanks for all the help winning those three AL Central Division Championships. See you once or twice in ST and maybe late in October!!!!!

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