The Washington Nationals have acquired 6-foot-8 right-hander Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers for … well … pretty much nothing. The Nationals will send utility man Steve Lombardozzi, lefty reliever Ian Krol and prospect Robbie Ray to Detroit in exchange for two more years of Fister. In 2013, Fister went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA, and was 1-0 with a 3.37 ERA in the playoffs, with a 1.50 ERA in the ALCS. Fister is 29, but the Nationals have two more years of control with Fister, who will be a free agent in 2016, at the earliest. In his three seasons with Detroit, Fister was 32-20 with a 3.29 ERA.
Washington got him for the equivalent of a bucket of baseballs. Lombardozzi is a nice player, but is probably a platoon second baseman or a super utility guy at best, and it would be hard to believe Detroit hands him the starting second base job. Krol has shown flashes of being a strong lefty reliever, but also has shown he may not miss enough bats to stick. Ray is probably the centerpiece of the deal, but has not pitched higher than Double-A, though he is only 21. When the deal first came down, it was easy to jump immediately to names like Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen, since the Tigers need a closer. Now, it’s obvious that Mike Rizzo has spun some real magic here.
Fister made $4 million this season, and is eligible for arbitration in 2014, where his salary could really spike. But still, Fister wasn’t very expensive compared to some of Detroit’s other starters. It’s very hard to believe Dave Dombrowski let one of his most consistent starters go for essentially a bench bat, a lefty specialist and a young prospect probably a year or two away. It’s also pretty shocking since this deal came out of nowhere, which is just how Rizzo likes it.
This deal, without a doubt, is an absolute steal for the Nationals, there’s really no doubt about it. Fister has a career 3.53 ERA pitching in the American League, with the Seattle Mariners and Tigers. He doesn’t throw particularly hard, and gives up very few home runs — only 14 in 208.2 innings pitched. What’s more, Fister only walked 44 batters in that same amount of innings, so he’s all about location and keeping the ball down. Imagine putting that in the National League, and Fister could be very, very good for the Nationals, a team with now four rotation spots filled.
This deal is nothing short of highway robbery for the Nationals, who acquire one of baseball’s top pitchers the past few years for a fringe reliever, a super utility guy and a left-handed starting prospect who has yet to reach Triple-A. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Fister? Sounds like a World Series rotation to me.