Tigers, Nationals Officially Announce Doug Fister Trade

Doug FisterBoth the Tigers and Nationals have officially announced a trade that will send pitcher Doug Fister to Washington in exchange for infielder Steve Lombardozzi and pitchers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray.

Fister was one of the best number-four pitchers in baseball in 2013, going 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA across 208.2 innings. He figures to remain in the four-hole in Washington, pitching behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.

The trade instantly improves what was already considered one of the best rotations in baseball, and will give the Nationals far more consistency towards the bottom of the rotation in 2014 than it did last season. While Dan Haren did finish 2013 on a strong note down the stretch, he struggled immensely early on, and according to one source I spoke to in June, was one bad start away from being released a few weeks before the All-Star Break.

At age 29, Fister is entering the prime of his career, and is still under team control for two more seasons. Whether or not the Nationals will extend him remains to be seen, as they have their own stars like Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond to work out extensions. However for the price they paid, two years of Fister should prove to be an incredible value.

Another part of why this trade is such a bargain for the Nationals is that they manage to acquire a quality arm without giving up the likes of Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan, Lucas Giolito or Anthony Rendon – the four major trade chips that have been thrown around when names like David Price, Max Scherzer and Jeff Samardzija came up in trade speculations. That means the Nats still have Roark, Jordan and Ross Detwiler to compete for the fifth rotation spot, and could still, in theory, swing a trade for another pitcher if they were feeling bold enough to make another major acquisition, though that’s an unlikely scenario.

While Nationals fans are jumping up and down about what appears to be a “steal” of sorts for Washington, the Tigers do receive three quality players in return. Ray, the player with the highest ceiling of the three, went 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA at AA Harrisburg last season, and posted a 9.3 K/9 ratio. Ray’s potential as a strikeout pitcher is very promising at age 22, and he projects to be a number-three starter when he reaches the big leagues in a couple of seasons.

Krol, also 22, made his major-league debut with the Nationals in 2013, and posted a 3.95 ERA in 32 appearances. Krol was demoted mid-season after consecutive rough outings, and posted a less-than-desirable 4.91 ERA at AAA Syracuse, but he showed promise in his first major-league stint, posting a 7.2 K/9 ratio in 27.1 innings.

Lombardozzi will enter his fourth big-league season in 2014, and has proven to be a valuable commodity off the bench for the Nationals in recent seasons. While he’s not been the offensive player the Nationals hope he’d be, Lombardozzi was incredibly versatile on defense, logging time at second base, shortstop, third base and left field.

At this moment, the trade certainly appears to be a win for the Nationals, but if Ray blossoms and Fister struggles in Washington, it could swing in favor of the Tigers in future seasons.

Follow OPSN’s Michael Natelli on Twitter for more updates @MichaelNatelli

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