Tigers Trade Fister in Head Scratching Deal

On Monday, the Tigers traded established right-handed starter Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for a trio of players that has left many onlookers scratching their head. The Tigers received utility man Steve Lombardozzi, left-hander Ian Krol, and minor league left-hander Robbie Ray in the deal.

As many often say, fans should put their trust in general manager Dave Dombrowski. But fans are struggling to do that after a questionable deal that saw the Tigers trade one of the better starting pitchers in baseball over the last few years in exchange for a couple of spare parts on a big league club, and a solid but not spectacular minor league prospect.

Fister won 24 games for the Tigers over the last two years, posting an ERA and FIP in the mid 3's each of the two years, and posting a WAR of 3.5 in 2012 and 4.6 in 2013, helping make him one of the top pitchers in the American League.

He made $4 million in 2013 and was due a raise in 2014 through arbitration that would likely have resulted in him making around $7 million. He's under team control for two more years before he becomes a free agent.

In return, the Tigers received three players that won't excite many, but the most exciting member of the trio is 22-year old left-hander Robbie Ray. He posted a 3.36 ERA over 142 innings between high-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg this season, striking out over 10 batters per nine innings.

According to TigsTown Director of Scouting Mark Anderson, Robbie Ray has a solid fastball that checks in around 90 MPH with reports of him dialing it up to 96, but both his curveball and change-up need work for him to excel and become a regular big league starter. Nevertheless, he immediately slots in as one of the top five to ten prospects in the Tigers organization.

In addition to Ray, the Tigers landed utility man Steve Lombardozzi and left-handed reliever Ian Krol.

Lombardozzi has played all around the diamond for the Nationals over the past few years, getting in time at second base, third base, shortstop, and left field. He's hit just .264 with little power over that time, but does bring a switch-hitting bat to the Tigers bench.

Finally, Ian Krol carries some potential as a hard throwing lefty, and at just 22 years of age, is also young with some potential. However, his 3.95 ERA won't wow anyone, and despite a K:BB ratio of 2.8, actually posted a negative WAR in his limited use. He'll likely still be looked upon to be one of the team's middle relievers as they look to rebuild a bullpen that was pointed to as the Tigers' Achilles' heel.

So, as Fister heads out of town, Tigers fans are scratching their heads and wondering what exactly spurred this deal, and why the need to pull the trigger so quickly. Is another deal coming that the Tigers needed to clear more salary for, or is the past month a sign that the Tigers are looking to get leaner on the books?

It's likely that the next month, including this weekend's Winter Meetings in Orlando, will be a telling sign.

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