Major AL Central news again occurred Monday night, as the Detroit Tigers traded starter Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals. High schooler Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish was the first to report the news. Both teams have now confirmed the deal.
In the trade, which FanGraphs has already labeled a “steal” , the Nationals are sending back lefty starting prospect Robbie Ray, lefty reliever Ian Krol and infielder Steve Lombardozzi. The top player of the bunch is regarded to be Ray, who was 11-5 with a 3.36 ERA between High-A and Double-A this past season and is the fifth-best prospect in the Nats system, per Baseball America.
Overall however, it appears to be a light haul for the 29-year-old Fister, who was 32-20 with a 3.29 ERA in 70 games for the Tigers over the last 2.5 seasons since being traded from Seattle. Combined with Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, he helped give Detroit perhaps the most dominant four-man rotation in baseball. He is not a free agent until after the 2015 season. He now gives Washington one of MLB’s best rotations alongside Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.
It’s a curious move for Detroit, who also made a big splash in the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler swap two weeks ago. The two deals will likely save the team about $15 million for the 2014 season and countless more in years to come because of Fielder’s massive remaining contract.
But without the juggernaut rotation that led the Tigers to 93 wins and an AL-best 3.44 ERA as a unit, there’s possibly an opening for the Indians to move up in the division in the near future. I wouldn’t expect Detroit to be done with major moves this offseason, however.