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Nationals acquire Doug Fister from Tigers in four-player trade

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Doug Fister is moving from one championship contender to another.
Doug Fister is moving from one championship contender to another. (USATSI)

The Nationals have acquired right-hander Doug Fister from the Tigers for utility man Steve Lombardozzi, left-hander Ian Krol and minor league left-hander Robbie Ray, both teams announced. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish first reported the deal.

Washington has been looking to bolster its rotation behind Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez this offseason, and they have certainly done that with Fister. Detroit, meanwhile, was shopping a starter in an effort to free up cash and a rotation spot for Drew Smyly. Both teams accomplished their goals with the trade.

Fister, 29, went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA (115 ERA+) and a 3.61 K/BB ratio in 208 2/3 innings for the Tigers this past season. He is a ground ball pitcher (54.3 percent in 2013) who doesn't walk many (1.90 BB/9), though his strikeout rate (6.86 K/9) isn't anything special. That should improve with the move into the DH-less league.

Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors projects Fister to earn $6.9 million next season, his second trip through arbitration. He remains under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2015 as well, so the Nationals will have him, Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmermann together for the next two years. Ross Detwiler is a candidate to be the fifth starter.

The Tigers have already made one blockbuster trade this offseason, sending Prince Fielder to the Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler a few weeks ago. Even without Fister, they still have a powerful rotation led by Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez. Smyly and Rick Porcello figure to fill out the rest of the staff.

Lombardozzi, 25, hit .259/.278/.338 (69 OPS+) with two home runs and four stolen bases in 307 plate appearances for Washington in 2013. He will likely replace Ramon Santiago on Detroit's bench. Lombardozzi has experience at the three non-first base infield positions as well as left field.

The 22-year-old Krol had a 3.95 ERA (97 ERA+) in 27 1/3 relief innings this past season, holding lefties to a .220 batting average in 56 plate appearances. He's a candidate to replace Smyly as the team's primary southpaw in the bullpen.

Ray, 22, went 11-5 with a 3.36 ERA and 10.1 K/9 in 142 innings split between High Class-A and Double-A in 2013. Baseball America ranked him as Washington's fifth best prospect early last month.

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