Seeking an upgrade to their starting rotation, the Washington Nationals have acquired right-hander Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers. MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo first had the news, including rumblings that there would be three players heading back to Detroit: Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray, and Ian Krol. The Tigers have since confirmed the deal via press release.
Fister has quietly been one of the top starting pitchers in the Major Leagues over the past three seasons, particularly since he joined the Tigers midway through the 2011 season. He’s made 70 appearances in that stretch, posting a 3.29 ERA and 1.308 WHIP across 440.2 IP. He’s limited the big damage well in is career, avoiding the extra men on base with a low 1.8 BB/9 and keeping the ball in the park, allowing just 0.7 HR/9. Both should play well in Nationals Park and with a solid defense behind him in Washington.
Fister is under team control through the next two seasons but will be facing arbitration in the coming weeks. Projections put his 2014 salary at $6.9 Million.
Lombardozzi easily has the most Major League experience of the group heading back to Detroit. A second baseman by trade, Lombardozzi has seen time at third base and left field during his tenure in Washington which brings some added versatility to the Tigers bench. He won’t bring much pop to the lineup, with just a .264/.297/.342 career line and just 5 HR in 755 PA. Nationals fans were always fond of his tenacity in the field, but he should be able to fit into whatever role the team ends up using him in.
Krol made his debut this past season for Washington, throwing 27.2 IP out of the bullpen with mixed results. He still has options remaining and can be sent to Triple-A, but he’ll provide another left-handed bullpen option for the Tigers.
Ray is the wild card here, as scouting reports are mixed on what his future potential might be. He’s thrown well, however, as he’s climbed through Washington’s minor league system. A 12th Round pick in the 2010 Draft, Ray split his 2013 season between High-A and Double-A, throwing a total of 142.0 IP. He went 11-5 in that span, with a 3.36 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and 1.254 WHIP. He’ll likely see some additional time at Double-A to begin 2014 and is likely at least a year away from contributing in Detroit.