Fister in, Lombardozzi out for Nationals
The Nationals have acquired right-hander Doug Fister in a trade with the Tigers, adding an experienced-yet-affordable starter to their rotation in exchange for Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and prospect Robbie Ray.
Fister immediately bolsters a Nationals rotation that already includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez, and provides insurance in case left-hander Ross Detwiler struggles to return from an injury-plagued season while also affording youngsters Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan the opportunity to develop without being rushed.
General manager Mike Rizzo had been seeking to add another arm to his rotation, with a trade perhaps his preferred avenue over a costly free agent signing. Fister, who turns 30 in February, proved to be a perfect match.
The right-hander owns a 3.53 ERA in five seasons with the Mariners and Tigers and became a stalwart member of Detroit’s postseason rotation the last three years. A lanky, 6-foot-8 sinkerballer, he went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 33 starts for the Tigers this season and pitched well in two postseason starts, allowing four runs in 12 total innings.
What likely made Fister all the more attractive to Rizzo: He is entering only his second season of arbitration eligibility and can’t become a free agent until after the 2015 season. Having made $4 million this season in Detroit, Fister figures to earn a raise to the neighborhood of $6 million to $7 million this winter.
In acquiring a strong, middle-of-the-rotation starter, Rizzo didn’t have to part ways with a big-league regular or established, late-inning reliever, which could be considered a coup on his part.
Lombardozzi was a well-liked, solid utility infielder who grew up in nearby Columbia but provided limited offensive punch and wasn’t deemed a strong enough defender to play shortstop. The 25-year-old hit .264 with a .297 on-base percentage and .639 OPS since debuting with the Nationals in Sept. 2011.
Krol, 22, was a pleasant surprise after his acquisition from the Athletics as the player-to-be-named in last winter’s Michael Morse trade. The lefty dazzled upon making his debut with the Nationals in midsummer, but he faded down the stretch and finished with a 3.95 ERA in 32 appearances.
Ray is the key to the trade, from the Tigers’ perspective. A hard-throwing left-hander drafted out of high school in 2010, the 22-year-old went a combined 11-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 27 starts between Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg this season. Ray recently was named the Nationals’ fifth-best prospect, according to Baseball America.