In what can only be compared to the Curtis Granderson trade of 2009, the Tigers traded away fan favorite Doug Fister for three unknown players on Monday night.
Although his ERA and WHIP has been on the rise, Fister saw moderate success the past two and half seasons in Detroit.
Tiger fans saw him compile a 32-10 regular season record and an impressive 2.98 ERA in 8 postseason games.
When the trade was announced, the fans outcry could be heard all around the world on social media.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said it best after the trade, “When you trade the known for the unknown, people don’t like it.”
He sure is right.
It’s hard to find positive feedback from fans at first glance and it’s even worse at second glance.
For those questioning the trade, you should know that it could also mean big things to come. Fister was expected to earn around $7 million from arbitration this upcoming season. That’s $7 million the Tigers didn’t have this morning.
“We thought for us, it was a move that made sense. It gives us some flexibility to do some other things we wanted to do,” Dombrowski said in a conference call late Monday night, “We were in a position where if the right trade came along, in our minds, we’d make the deal.”
Before you think this trade is a bust, you should at least know who you got in return.
Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray, and Ian Krol.
The only name you would actually know is Lombardozzi. He has spent the past 2 full seasons as a Washington National utility player. He started a game as recently as July 31st when the Nationals visited Comerica Park; he went 0-for-4.
Lombardozzi seems to be the replacement for Ramon Santiago, who the Tigers announced they will not re-sign.
He can play second, third, shortstop, and even some left field. Dombrowski even called him a “super-utility player”.
Yes, the Tigers do still have Don Kelly, who just accepted a 1-year-deal on Monday afternoon. But is it really that bad to have two diverse utility players?
The offense is what takes the hit - Lombardozzi is just a .264 hitter in his career with a dismal .297 OBP. He has moderate speed but not exactly a stolen base threat.
He is a switch-hitter though so it does give them some value on the bench (we think).
As for the other two gentlemen in the trade, they are both left-handed pitchers – something the Tigers organization desperately needed.
Ian Krol, 22-years-old from Illinois, just made his MLB debut on June 5th. He was used out of the bullpen in 32 games as a National - compiling a 3-2 record, 3.95 ERA, 8 walks, and 22 strikeouts.
Not exactly mind-blowing numbers but the Tigers hope he can fill the void left by Drew Smyly, who will move to the starting rotation next season.
Krol throws a low-90’s fastball, a change-up, and a sharp curveball. Despite some off the field issues like being suspended his senior year of high school due to an alcohol related incident and another suspension from the Oakland Athletics for a homophobic tweet, he could still have a high upside…we hope.
The other lefty pitcher the Tigers got was Robbie Ray. This seems to be the prized piece of the trade for the Tigers. He was just recently listed as the #5 prospect in the Nationals organization.
The 22-year-old starter from Tennessee features a mid-90’s fastball, a changeup, and a slider. All scouting reports seem to say his secondary pitches need work with command. Meaning you likely won’t see him in Detroit this season, unless he’s used as an emergency starter due to injury.
He did have a great 2013 in Double-A for the Nationals, he went 5-2 in 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA, 21 walks, and 60 strikeouts. He also has an impressive 9.1 SO/9 ratio in 4 minor league seasons.
Dombrowski said of Robbie Ray, “He’s knocking on the door.”
Fans certainly wanted more in return for Doug Fister and it may seem like a salary dump on paper. Maybe it is?
If the Tigers extend Cy Young winner Max Scherzer or sign a big name free agent soon then this trade will make more sense.
“It’s only December 2nd, we’re not done for the wintertime.” Dombrowski said, “We’re not done.”
He also repeatedly said that they are not cutting payroll.
Yes, you may choose to believe what you want, but you should believe that the Tigers are not done.
It may not come in a huge big name signing but you better believe something more is coming soon.
But what exactly is it?
“We need a closer, that’s number one priority.” Dombrowski said. When asked to elaborate on other positions he said, “First and foremost it’s a closer, and then we’ll go from there.”
It will likely be in the form of a left fielder or a third baseman.
Nevertheless, the Tigers lost a great starter Monday night but before you rule this trade as a bust, just wait and see.
It could be a brilliant trade, just like Dombrowski’s résumé says.
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