Chirs Cotillo from MLB Daily Dish was the first to break the news on Monday that the Detroit Tigers had traded pitcher Doug Fister. It's a four-player deal with Fister going to the Washington Nationals, and the Tigers receiving Ian Krol, Robbie Ray and Steve Lombardozzi in return.
As good as the Prince Fielder trade was for the Tigers, this trade looks just as bad at first glance.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski will get the benefit of the doubt, but it certainly looks like Detroit should have been able to get more than two pitching prospects and a light-hitting infielder in return for Fister.
The 29-year-old Fister may not be an ace, but he has shown that he can be a well-above-average MLB starter and is under team control until 2016. His record of 32-20 with a 3.29 ERA over the past three seasons with the Tigers easily demonstrates that. MLB TradeRumors projects that Fister would have received $6.9 million in arbitration for next season.
$6.9 million looks like a relative bargain in comparison to some of the other deals that have been handed out in free agency. I can't help but think that the Tigers have downgraded the team's biggest area of strength, the rotation, for three players who might not have an impact on a team geared to win the World Series next year.
Moving Fister's salary allowed Detroit to sign closer Joe Nathan, in a deal that was first reported on Tuesday to be close by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi. The Tigers will point to Nathan's signing as one of the main benefits to the Fister deal, but the Tigers should have been able to acquire more quality for a pitcher of Fister's ability while still adding a solid closer.
Signing a closer like Nathan is a no-brainer, especially for a team like the Tigers. It would be easy to argue that if Detroit had had a better bullpen in the 2013 postseason, they could have won the World Series instead of the Boston Red Sox.
But, you have to look at the Nathan deal separately from the Fister deal. While the Nathan signing looks to be a huge win for the Tigers, the Fister trade might be something that Detroit comes to regret next season if the rotation struggles.
For a team that looks to be built to win right now, the Fister deal looks all the more curious.