Doug Fister is a very quiet pitcher; he doesn't have a blazing fastball, nor is he an intimidating presence on the mound despite his 6'8" frame. What Fister is, is a competitor. One that will be joining his third Major League team. The Detroit Tigers sent Fister to the Washington Nationals for infielder Steve Lombardozzi, minor league left-hander Robbie Ray, and reliever Ian Krol.
At first glance, the deal doesn't make a whole lot of sense from the Tigers' perspective. GM Dave Dombrowski said the team is not cutting payroll, despite having unloaded Prince Fielder and the bulk of his contract two weeks ago. But with Justin Verlander guaranteed $160MM over the next six seasons, Anibal Sanchez set to make a minimum of $67.2MM through 2018, and Max Scherzer set to hit free agency in 2015, Fister became expendable. (The Tigers are trying to sign Scherzer to a new deal, which will undoubtedly be a hefty one after the right-hander won the 2013 AL Cy Young Award. He's under the Tigers control until 2015 and is in his second year of arbitration eligibility after he earned $6MM last season.)
Fister earned $4MM last year and should see an increase in this, his year first of arbitration eligibility. If healthy, he should make 30 starts and give the Nats 180-200 innings pitched. Fister has pitched in two pitcher's ballparks in the Majors - Safeco Field and Comerica Park - and should find Nationals Park as a good fit as well. Though the stadium allowed the 13th highest amount of runs in the Majors last season, it ranked 26th in home runs allowed. Fister has allowed less than a home run per 9 innings in his career and will no longer have to face a DH, outside of interleague games.
Krol could be the key to the deal for Detroit. The 22-year old left-hander was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 amateur draft by the Oakland A's and ended up in the Nats organization as part of the deal that sent Mike Morse to Seattle.
He appeared in 32 games in relief for the Nationals this past season and averaged 7.2 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. (Krol had four minor league seasons in which he struck out more than 10 batters per 9 innings.) He's put up solid numbers despite the fact his fastball tops out at 90-mph. Control is his key according to scoutingbook.com.
"What he is good at is changing speeds, working both sides of the plate with great accuracy, and keeping hitters both off-balance and honest, thanks to the aforementioned touch ability and a plus curve that he can bounce or drop into the zone on demand."Ray is a 22-year old starter who has averaged better than 9 K's/9 IP over four minor league seasons. The Nationals selected him in the 12th round of the 2010 amateur draft. Though 68 of his 70 appearances have been as a starter, he is projected long term as a reliever.
The 25-year old Lombardozzi can give the Tigers some bench depth with his ability to play second base and the outfield. Don't count on him to produce offensively, however.
Overall, this is a great deal for Washington and a wait and see for the Tigers.