When you think about the Washington Nationals, you certainly don’t think about how the team makes a big splash in free agency like the New York Yankees. You do, however, consider the lack of fear to pull the trigger in the trade market.
Washington was back at Monday, as they locked up a deal that will send infielder Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray, and pitcher Ian Krol to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for pitcher Doug Fister. Fister, 29, will assume the fourth spot in one of Major League Baseball’s top rotations this coming spring. The Nats expect Fister, who went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA a year ago, to provide stability to the back end of a rotation that struggled throughout the first half of last season. Washington has Fister signed for an additional two years, as the former Detroit Tiger enters the prime of his career. Washington appears to have come away from the trade a major winner after acquiring a key starter without having to sacrifice top prospects, Taylor Jordan or Anthony Rendon.
Still, the Nationals will give up three pieces that may provide a positive future for the Tigers. First, the utility man Steve Lombardozzi. The former nineteenth round pick struggled to produce from the plate, and essentially was relegated to the bench during his fourth season in the majors. Ian Krol had similar issues during his quick stint in the majors this past season, and was demoted to Triple-A Syracuse where he finished with a 3.95 ERA. The most important part of the deal, however, is Robbie Ray. Ray, who was ranked the 5th best Nationals prospect by Baseball America, spent last season in Double-A Harrisburg where the power pitcher finished with a 11-5 record and 3.36 ERA. The Tigers expect Ray to excel within their minor league system, and to eventually be the third starter in their rotation. Ray has shown a great ability to strike batters out, but has struggled at times with his control.
The transaction struck between the Nationals and Tigers seems to be a mutual agreement between the two teams. Expect both squads to receive pivotal pieces from the deal, however, Washington may have outmaneuvered the Tigers, as the Nationals desperately needed a fourth starter to replace Dan Haren.