On Monday night, news broke that the Tigers had traded starting pitcher Doug Fister to the the Washington Nationals for utility man Steve Lombardozzi, reliever Ian Krol, and pitching prospect Robbie Ray, according to Chris Cotillo. This one raised many eyebrows because it came out of nowhere and also because of the seemingly small return going to Detroit.
Fister, 30 in February, is coming off a year in which he pitched to a 3.67 ERA (3.26 FIP) in 208.2 innings and 32 starts. It should be noted that this is Fister’s highest ERA since 2010, which could be attributed to a .332 BABIP, 34 points above his career average. When you combine all of this with a very nice groundball rate, you would think making the switch out of Comerica shouldn’t hurt him too much. It should also be noted that he’s missed a start here and there, but he’s still managed to throw at least 160 innings in each of the last four years.
Fister will be going through his second year arbitration this year and Matt Swartz projects him to make a very reasonable $6.9 million. He’s not due to become a free agent until after the 2015 season. It’s a very good addition to a starting rotation that already ranked sixth in the majors in FIP last year.
As far as the Tigers side of the trade goes, I’m not sure I get it. They gave up a mid-rotation starter (which is pretty valuable these days if you take a look at the free agent market) and got back a couple of extra pieces and a pitching prospect. I understand that they wanted to free up a spot for Drew Smyly to start, but I thought they would have been able to fetch a bit more.
However, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has a very good track record with trades (Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, etc.) and we’ve seen that they’re looking for more financial flexibility (as we saw from the Prince Fielder trade), so I guess we’ll have to see. But for now, it looks like Washington is getting the better of this one.