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Tigers trade Doug Fister to Nationals for Ian Krol, Robbie Ray, Steve Lombardozzi

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The Detroit Tigers traded veteran starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals last night, receiving three young players in return. Here's the scoop on Ian Krol, Robbie Ray, and Steve Lombardozzi

Ian Krol
Ian Krol
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The Washington Nationals added a veteran presence to their pitching staff yesterday, acquiring Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers for three players: left-handed pitchers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray, plus infielder Steve Lombardozzi. Here is my take on the three youngsters moving from our nation's capital to Michigan.


Steve Lombardozzi, INF: A 19th round pick in 2008 from St. Petersburg College in Florida, Lombardozzi has filled the utility infielder role for the Nationals the last two seasons. He hit .273/.317/.354 in 384 at-bats in 2012, followed by a weaker .259/.278/.338 mark in 290 at-bats in 210.

A switch-hitter, he was born September 9, 1988. The son of former Minnesota Twins second baseman Steve Lombardozzi, the younger version is quite similar to his father: a slick defensive player who doesn't hit much. Lombardozzi is a very talented fielder at second base in terms of range and reliability and has also played some outfield, but a weak arm precludes regular use at shortstop. He won't provide much OBP or power, but his "little ball" skills and glovework could keep him around for awhile.


Ian Krol, LHP: Originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the seventh round in 2009 from high school in Illinois, Krol was traded to Washington this past March as part of a three-way trade with the Seattle Mariners. Krol was hampered by injuries and disciplinary issues early in his career, including an incident where he made anti-gay comments on Twitter, but his talent hasn't been doubted.

Born May 9, 1991, the 6-1, 210 pound Krol pitched in the majors this year and performed reasonably well, posting a 3.95 ERA in 27.1 innings with a 22/8 K/BB. The Nationals used him as a reliever but he started in the Oakland system. His fastball runs at 90-96 MPH, averaging about 93, and he mixes in a curveball and change-up. At worst he should be a useful bullpen asset, but another shot at starting is possible down the line.


Robbie Ray, LHP: Ray was drafted by the Nationals in the 12th round in 2010, from high school in Brentwood, Tennessee. He had a very difficult 2012 season (6.56 ERA in 21 starts in Low-A) but turned things around suddenly in 2013, posting a 3.11 ERA with a 100/41 K/BB in 84 innings for High-A Potomac, followed by a 3.72 ERA with a 60/21 K/BB in 58 innings for Double-A Harrisburg.

A 6-2, 170 pound southpaw, Ray was born October 1, 1991. He has a 90-96 MPH fastball and a good change-up, but his slider is mediocre at best and will need to be improved for him to start at the big league level. That said, he made a lot of progress in '13 and could develop into a number three or four starter if all goes well. Failing that, he could be useful in the bullpen.

ANALYSIS: From Detroit's point of view, this looks financially motivated to me, which is not the same thing as saying it is bad or wrong. Fister is a solid pitcher, but is heading into his arbitration years, gives up a lot of hits, and is quite reliant on having a good defense behind him. The Tigers may simply not have been comfortable making a long-term commitment to a guy with his profile. In exchange, they got two young lefties with potential power arms, help for the bullpen at a minimum and perhaps starters down the line.

From the Nationals point of view, Fister provides 180-200 innings of reliable strike-throwing and they didn't have to give up a super-hot prospect to get him. Overall I can see the logic from both sides, even if it is unusual to see the Tigers trade for prospects.