The Tigers already made one big splash this offseason, dealing Prince Fielder (and $30 million) to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler. They made another Monday when they traded 6-foot-8 righthander Doug Fister to the Nationals for three players: big league utilityman Steve Lombardozzi and 22-year-old lefthanders Ian Krol and Robbie Ray.
Ray ranked No. 5 on the Nationals’ most-recent Top 10 Prospects list. Fister’s acquisition gives the Nats a strong front four with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.
Steve Lombardozzi, 2b/lf/3b
Age: 25. Bats: B.
Service time: 2.023. Options used: 0/3.
Lombardozzi profiles as a utility player for the Tigers, a role he has filled for the Nationals the last two seasons. The switch-hitter is the son of ex-Twins infielder Steve Lombardozzi.
Ian Krol, lhp
Career Transactions: Selected by Athletics in seventh round of 2009 draft; signed Aug. 17, 2009 . . . Traded by Athletics to Nationals, March 20, 2013, completing three-team deal in which Nationals sent OF Michael Morse to Mariners; Mariners sent C John Jaso to Athletics; and Athletics sent RHPs A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen and a player to be named to Nationals (Jan. 16, 2013).
Krol, who reached the majors for the first time at age 22 in 2013, has been used in relief since reaching Double-A in 2012 and has proved fairly effective. In 27 innings with the Nats, he gave up five homers and had a 3.95 ERA over 32 appearances. Krol’s power emerged with a move to the bullpen, as his fastball has touched 96 mph and averaged 93.5, according to Pitch f/x data at Fangraphs.com. He also throws a hard curveball as his top secondary pitch, helping him limit lefthanded hitters in the majors to a .220/.273/.320 batting line. The acquisition of Krol might allow the Tigers to move their most trusted lefty reliever in 2013, Drew Smyly, into the rotation.
Robbie Ray, lhp
Career Transactions: Selected by Nationals in 12th round of 2010 draft; signed Aug. 17, 2010.
Ray began the year at high Class A Potomac and earned a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg, going 11-5, 3.36 overall with 160 strikeouts and 62 walks in 142 innings. After a terrible 2012, he bounced back with a solid 2013 to jump into the Nationals Top 10 Prospects. In our scouting report, Aaron Fitt noted that Ray’s “plus fastball, athleticism and durable frame give him a chance to be a mid-rotation starter if he can develop his breaking ball.” His fastball sits in the 91-96 mph range and he knows how to pitch off it well. His changeup plays above-average, and he has a loose arm that encourages scouts’ projections on his future command. His breaking ball earns below-average grades, though.
Doug Fister, rhp
Remaining commitment: Second-year arbitration-eligible for 2014 ($4 million salary in 2013).
Fister went 32-20, 3.29 in three seasons with the Tigers since his acquisition from the Mariners in July 2011, and he pitched well in three postseasons for Detroit, with a 2.98 ERA in 48 innings spanning eight appearances. He is not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season. He consistently ranks as one of the majors’ more extreme groundball pitchers—for example, he tied for the American League lead with 26 double plays in 2013—and in recent years he’s pitched in front of a defense that usually featured Prince Fielder at first and Miguel Cabrera at third.