The Nationals’ Mike Rizzo took advantage of some serious savings on Monday, picking up the Detroit Tigers’ Doug Fister in a deal that sent a journeyman infielder, and lefty reliever and a mid-level prospect back. Fister has been a middle of the rotation over performer for the Tigers, going 14-9 last year, tied for the league lead in induced GDPs, 2nd in home runs allowed per 9 innings (0.6) with a career 3.53 ERA.
Fister went 32-20 in three years in the Tigers organization, last year notching 159 strikeouts across 33 appearances on the way to the Tigers AL Central championship. A ground-ball pitcher of towering stature (Fister is 6’ 8”), the pickup can’t be overstated for the Nationals. They add a starter to fill the spot of the departing Haren, and it cost them just a replacement middle infielder (Steve Lombardozzi), a lefty reliever (Ian Krol), and a prospect (Robbie Ray).
Hats off to GM Mike Rizzo for orchestrating the deal. As the first rumors surfaced (thanks to Chris Cotillo from MLB Daily Dish for his hard work breaking the news), fan approval was very high for the arrival of Fister, though some were saddened over the loss of Lombardozzi, who some believed the balm for some of the Nationals’ middle infield “issues”. I, for one, think that Dave Dombrowski might still have a tryptophan hangover to give up Fister for so little a return. The only explanation I can find is that they are far higher on the value of Robbie Ray than the Nationals are.
Fister is arbitration-eligible this year, and is under team control through 2016. Some place his salary at just under $7M for 2014, which would be a bargain for a 32-game starter that could take 200 IP and pick up 15 wins. The Nationals won big on Cyber Monday, that much is for sure.