The Tigers were reportedly shopping one their quintet of above-average starting pitchers. Except, well, no one saw the club dealing the underrated Doug Fister, who’s just entering his first year of arbitration.
On Monday night, the Tigers agreed to send Fister to the Nationals in exchange for top prospect Robbie Ray, utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi and southpaw reliever Ian Krol.
The immediate reaction is that Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski is selling Fister for pennies on the dollar.
Ray, a 6-foot-2 southpaw, re-emerged after a lackluster 2012 season where his strikeout rate plummeted (from 9.6 K/9 to 7.3 K/9) while his control saw a slight uptick (3.8 BB/9 to 4.2 BB/9) as well. Last season, however, the former 12th round over-slot fanned 160 and walked 62 in 142 innings of work split between high Class A and Class AA.
Ray, admittedly, has front-of-the-rotation type potential, but he’s going to need to overcome two rather large factors: below-average control/command and the injury nexus that haunts a lot of younger pitchers. And, truthfully, it remains to be seen whether Ray’s ultimate ceiling will actually meet – let alone exceed – Fister’s current production (something around 4.5 fWAR).
Krol, a hard-throwing lefty, was converted to a fulltime reliever last season, and breezed through the upper two levels of the minor leagues before making his big league debut. Mid 90s heat, hard cutter, upper 70s curveball and changeup. At his peak he’s a 1.0 win reliever, maybe 1.5.
As far as Lombardozzi’s concerned, well, he’s a career .264/.297/.342 big league hitter through 755 plate appearances and has produced 26% below the league average mark. But, hey, he can play four – FOUR! – positions.
This is just a poor trade for the Tigers. Detroit acquires a young pitcher with the ceiling of Fister – maybe, and it’s a big maybe – as well as a good lefty and a below-average utility guy. The Tigers should have insisted on including outfielder Brian Goodwin along with Ray at the very minimum.
Photo of Doug Fister Courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.com.