The Detroit Tigers have made another major move in their offseason overhaul, reportedly trading starter Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals on Monday. The deal was first reported by Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com via Twitter:
Source: Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray among names potentially in Fister deal to #Tigers.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) December 3, 2013
Later in the evening, the MLB Roster Moves feed confirmed the trade:
The Tigers can afford to let Fister go with their impressive starting trio of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez under contract next year. With Scherzer in line for a big payday following the 2014 season, it didn't look like the team would be able to keep Fister once he became a free agent in 2016. Combined with the $76 million in salary relief created by the Prince Fielder trade for Ian Kinsler, the Tigers look poised to make a strong bid to keep Scherzer around long-term.
With Fister due an estimated $6.9 million in arbitration this winter, via Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, the Tigers elected to shed his salary for three low-cost players.
Steve Lombardozzi could settle into an infield role with Detroit losing Jhonny Peralta to free agency and Omar Infante testing the market, while Robbie Ray is a 22-year-old southpaw pitching prospect who made 27 starts (11-5, 3.36 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10.1 K/9) between High-A and Double-A ball in Washington's farm system this past season. Ian Krol, 22, is expected to step in as a lefty setup man for Detroit's bullpen with Drew Smyly moving to the rotation to fill the void left by Fister.
The Nationals parted with three quality players but receive a solid arm in the middle of the rotation that's under club control for two years. Given the going rate for starting pitching, $6.9 million for a pitcher of Fister's quality is a steal. Over the past three seasons, he has a 35-32 record, 3.30 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 6.8 K/9.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo discussed the trade (via ESPN.com)
"This is an exciting day for the Washington Nationals. We feel we've added a talented, young veteran to our starting pitching corps. Doug is battle-tested through playoff experiences, and the depth he brings to our staff is exceptional. We are thrilled to welcome him aboard."
Adding him to a rotation with Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann makes the Nationals a major force in the first year under manager Matt Williams. Meanwhile, first-year Detroit skipper Brad Ausmus will be handling a major overhaul with the Tigers.