Monday night eyes everywhere were opened when it was reported—originally by MLB Daily Dish's own Chris Cotillo—that the Detroit Tigers had traded starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals.
Original speculation was that Washington had to have given up some sort of important piece, as Fister has not only been one of the better starting pitchers in the American League, but is only owed $17 million over the next two seasons. Would it be Anthony Rendon? Drew Storen? Tyler Clippard?
No, no, and no.
Many were surprised when the details of this trade came to light, as the Nationals didn't seem to have to give up anything of significance. Lombardozzi is a nice player, but he's had 705 career at-bats over the course of three seasons with a career .264 batting average, five home runs and 50 RBI.
While the Tigers did get the lefty reliever they've been pining for in Krol, it doesn't seem as if Dave Dombrowski & Co. got maximum value out of Fister. This time last season Krol was with the Oakland Athletics, where he was ranked as the team's 31st best overall prospect. In 2013, Krol made 32 appearances out of the bullpen where he pitched to a 3.95 ERA.
Robbie Ray, the final piece of the deal, spent time between High-A and Double-A ball for the Nationals last season, where he combined to go 11-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 27 starts between the two. Ray, 22, was a 12th round pick by Washington in the 2010 MLB Draft, and was currently ranked as the organization's #18 overall prospect.
Meanwhile, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has significantly improved his team's starting rotation with the addition of Fister. Only 29 years old, Fister has compiled a career ERA of 3.53—in the American League, no less. Now, in a rotation featuring names like Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, Washington adds a player who pitched 208.2 innings last season in Fister. The only question the Nationals will have about their starting rotation heading into the 2014 season is that if there's a better one in the majors.
Many front offices could be asking themselves why didn't they make this trade after seeing what little talent Washington had to give up for such an effective starting pitcher, especially in this free agent market. Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers GM, may soon be asking himself why did he make this trade.