Taken at face value, it looked like the Nationals got an absolute steal from the Detroit Tigers in December when they acquired starter Doug Fister for Robbie Ray, Ian Krol and Steve Lombardozzi. Just about everyone in baseball scratched their heads at the news, saying the Tigers got far too little for the accomplished right-hander.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is aware of that perception and explained his reasoning to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com on Friday. He knows the Rays got significantly more a year before when they traded James Shields to the Royals, but this offseason was different, he says.
There were simply way less teams interested in trading young pitchers, which is what the Tigers were seeking for Fister. Dombrowski says even the Nationals said 'no' when he first asked for Ray. Yes, one of the most celebrated deals of the MLB offseason almost never happened at all.
"You can see that young pitching right now is very difficult to acquire," Dombrowski said. "We had a list of about 15 pitchers that we would consider in various deals. He was one of the 15. The other 14 people said no. And (the Nationals) said no at first."
Dombrowski has taken heat for not calling around enough, not shopping Fister for a better deal. He says he did and the Nationals gave him the best offer.
"The only part I take exception to -- and I've read it a couple of times -- is that we didn't do our homework. Well, that couldn't be further from the truth. We had our list of around 15 guys. We went to every one of those clubs: 'Would you trade this guy? Would you trade that guy?' And none of them would trade one."
Rosenthal explains that the Tigers needed to shed payroll which gave them some urgency to trade a pitcher this winter. The Nationals, it appears, were the beneficiaries of that.
Rosenthal has much more from Dombrowski on the future of Ray and his exclusion from Baseball America's top prospects list. Check it out here.