Nats Acquire Doug Fister from the Tigers

Updated: December 2, 2013


One of GM Mike Rizzo’s key objectives this offseason, acquiring a fourth starter to replace Dan Haren, has been completed. The Nats traded 2B Steve Lombardozzi, reliever Ian Krol, and minor league prospect Robbie Ray to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Doug Fister. Fister will join Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez in a formidable Washington starting rotation.

Fister was a critical component of the 2013 Detroit Tigers rotation. Fister recorded a 3.67 ERA last year while eating up 208 2/3 innings. The tall right-hander is a heavy ground ball hurler that posted a 14-9 record and fanned 159 batters compared to 44 walks. The prior season, Fister started 26 games and went 10-10 with a 3.45 ERA.

He is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $6.9MM this year through arbitration. Importantly for the Nats, Fister is under contract for the 2015 season.

Dealing Lombardozzi was a smart move by the Nats. Barring a free agent signing or trade, Anthony Rendon is expected to start at second base. Lombardozzi has upside potential at the plate as a higher average hitter and has trade value. He was going to be nothing more than a utility infielder in DC. Krol dominated early out of the pen last year before grounding a bit back to reality. He finished the season with a 3.95 ERA in 32 Appearances. Krol was just acquired a year ago in the trade that sent Mike Morse to Seattle. Ray is decent pitching prospect, but the Nats are heavy in young pitching talent, and several pitchers within the system are ahead of Ray.

According to several sources, the Tigers originally wanted Taylor Jordan thrown into the deal, but wisely, Mike Rizzo resisted that effort. Overall, this is an excellent deal for the Nationals with some costs, but certainly not an unbearable cost.

Some comments on the trade.

Hardball Talk

8:28 p.m. ET: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Nationals are expected to send infielder Steve Lombardozzi, left-handed reliever Ian Krol, and a prospect to the Tigers in exchange for Fister. We don’t know who the prospect is yet, but the return feels a little light at the moment.

Ray has really improved his stock as a prospect over the past year, but it’s surprising that the Nationals were able to acquire Fister without giving up a more significant piece. Put differently, many GMs are probably kicking themselves for not calling the Tigers.

MLB Trade Rumors

At first glance, the deal appears to be a major win for a Nationals club that has ample young pitching to deal from. Though Ray was certainly a well-regarded prospect, he was far from the club’s best and was not expected to have a chance at a rotation spot this year. Meanwhile, Lombardozzi was a utility option for the club. And while Krol showed a lot of promise in his jump to the bigs last year, he was acquired only last year as the player-to-be-named in the three-team deal that also brought A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen to D.C. from the A’s, with Michael Morse going to the Mariners.


Washington has been looking to bolster its rotation behind Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez this offseason, and they have certainly done that with Fister. Detroit, meanwhile, was shopping a starter in an effort to free up cash and a rotation spot for Drew Smyly. Both teams accomplished their goals with the trade.

Jim Callis from MLB on his Twitter

Wow. Fister trade looks like a lopsided win for the #Nationals to me. Is that just a salary dump for the #Tigers?