Unless there is more to it than meets the eye, it's difficult to defend the Tigers' trade Monday night of Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals.
Steve Lombardozzi is not a regular player. He is not even an effective backup. He is, at best, an upgrade from Ramon Santiago, a switch hitter with some versatility and little thunder in his bat. His career OPS is .639. His WAR last season was minus 0.4 and is minus 0.2 for his career, which means there is strong statistical evidence he is less than a 4-A player, let alone a major league benchie, joining Don Kelly, who signed a one-year contract Monday in the less-than-4A category. Lombardozzi walked just eight times in 317 plate appearances last season.
|Doug Fister: A certainty traded for three unproven players|
Ian Krol should help the Tigers as a situational left-hander, but he's just OK. Robbie Ray will give the Tigers some flexibility when it comes to make in-season trades. He had a really good High-A, Double-A combo season at a young age. He threw harder than in the past when he was projected as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He could be in the big leagues this season. But the road is littered with such pitchers, who never panned out after that type of minor league season.
Fister is a quality, proven No.3 MLB starter. They don't grow on trees. If this is about money, he was the one arbitration plus the Tigers' should have considered keeping. He didn't flinch in his time with Tigers. I didn't think that the Tigers trading for him was a good idea. I couldn't have been more wrong, I vastly overrated a prospect the Tigers traded to Seattle to acquire him, Francisco Martinez, and I greatly underrated Fister, the consummate pro and competitor.
People clamoring for the Tigers to have traded Rick Porcello instead are missing the point. Porcello has a much higher ceiling. He still younger than when Fister made his MLB debut, yet has more MLB service time. However, that higher ceiling figures to have netted the Tigers more in return.
There's a bottom line here. The Tigers are shooting to win a World Series next season. I know Fister would have played his part, and played it well. I don't know about these three players. Do you?
Perhaps the Tigers will use the money freed in this deal (about $5 million) toward signing a free agent to fill one of their holes (they are glaring in left field and at closer). Perhaps, the money will just go for the raises due to arbitration-eligible players Porcello, Austin Jackson and Alex Avila.
Whatever, the Fister trade was shocker to the system.