Nats Trade Ray, et al For Doug Fister

In a trade reminiscent of two Decembers ago, the Nationals have traded LHPs Robbie Ray and Ian Krol along with utilityman Steve Lombardozzi for Tigers RHP Doug Fister.

Fister, who was not drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks but rather the Seattle Mariners in the 7th Round of the 2006 Draft, turns 30 in February but is only in his second year of arbitration eligibility. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2015 season, providing Washington with a in-his-prime pitcher who’s exceeded 200 innings twice in the past three seasons and averaged more than six innings per appearance for his career.

Trade reaction is generally in the direction of adulation (trust me, I wanted to use a stronger word than that; think Apple fans and Jobs) for Washington GM Mike Rizzo’s latest trade or disdain for Detroit GM Dave Dombrowksi.

Then there are those who take the contrarian point of view:

Have to believe Tigers know something about Fister the rest of us don’t. Dombrowski isn’t dumb.
— David Laurila, Fangraphs via Twitter (@DavidLaurilaQA)

Of course, like a hermaphrodite’s knife, this cuts both ways: maybe Rizzo knows something about Ray or Krol like he presumably did with Brad Peacock, who has underwhelmed relative to the expectations set from his rise from AA to the majors in 2011. This is de rigeur with any trade that seems lopsided at first blush, though ultimately, it’s really hard to say that Rizzo “won” the Gonzalez trade. Oakland GM Billy Beane did get a cost-controlled pitcher and catcher and used Peacock to acquire an underrated everyday third baseman, fulfilling his mission to get talent on the cheap [insert “Moneyball” reference here].

From our perspective, it’s yet another reminder that for all our yearnings to see “our guys” with a curly W cap in DC, there’s always the chance that they’ll make The Show elsewhere. While that may be disappointing to some, it’s the reality of a system that’s not been highly regarded in the aggregate in the past couple of years, yet has been generating major-leaguers nevertheless.

This is actually a good sign, evidence that the organization is in the “Replace/Reload Mode” that ultimately is the most important measure of a system: generating players that can play in MLB.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

13 thoughts on “Nats Trade Ray, et al For Doug Fister”

  1. I agree that this is a good sign … evidence on the path that we are getting to a position with the system where we don’t need to totally empty out the minors to acquire a player we need to supplement the mlb roster now rather than later.

    Now, with Rizzo letting both Abad & Krol go, we get to wonder whether there is another shoe to drop on a lefty reliever, or whether he has decided that Detwiler, Solis, (Purke?) provide a steady flow of internal options for lefties in the pen.

  2. The main problem with the “Dombrowski knows something about Fister the rest of us don’t” argument is that presumably the other 28 GMs don’t know it either, assuming “it” even exists. They either didn’t know what the ultimate asking price for Fister would be (likely) or this trade represents Fister’s perceived value in the marketplace (unlikely, given the relatively large contracts already being handed out to mediocre free agent starters this year). My take is that the Tigers must really be high on Ray, or at least higher than most knowlegeable observers are. We’ll see how it goes.

  3. old ex-po fans hold a high regard for Diamond Dave- one of the best GMs of the last 24 years. Montreal, Florida, Detroit.
    dig the opened avenue for goon squad: Walters and Danny E.
    loook at all the LH options on the farm still. I like Nic Lee coming up along with RC Orlan who gets buzz from non-Nats
    fans in my circle.
    Is anybody chuckling at a Bowden asset being flipped for a commidity.
    Here is dave~s logic in Detroit_ LH starter and reliever along with a utlity type to replace a costly latin utility guy.
    three guys in the cookie jar which empties out the jar for a good thing….ops for others….
    now lets get Doumit or Conger!

  4. And there’s Brian Oliver who tweeted that he wasn’t a fan if Ray were to involved in the trade. Ray was the highest ranked LHP prospect on this site.

    In the end what Rizzo appears to want is a guy he can rely on to get 200 eaten innings. He tried expensive free agent options in EJax and Haren and they didn’t get him what he ostensibly was looking for: those 200 innings. He wasn’t necessarily looking for an ace as he has at least a couple of those with perhaps 2 developing in the wings. Here’s a guy who is younger than Haren and under control for 2 seasons (enough to get Cole and perhaps Giolito up the the Bigs) who just might get him those 200 innings. If he doesn’t then IMO the trade is a FAIL as I think that is how it will likely be viewed by Rizzo.

  5. The nats got a known quantity. for two yearson a team that can win now. He had to give up something. Pfister is a quality starter and stable in the club house. pitching wins. Four tough starters in a row. not bad.

  6. very well written article I really like your words the system has produced players and that needs to be said

  7. Luke: You’ve probably seen Ray pitch more than anyone, certainly more than any Tiger scouts. What’s your take on his upside? I saw him once in 2012 when he really got hit hard, but he seems to have made adjustments this year and made the jump to AA. That said, my impression is that he’s still at least a couple of years from The Show, at least as a full-time starter. There seems to be a fair amount of debate on the ‘net about whether his projected peak would be as a #2/3 starter, or only a #4/5.

    1. The Tigers have an affiliate in Erie in the Eastern League, so while I may have seen him pitch a lot, they’ve seen him more recently and clearly have a high opinion of him (perhaps his three-hit, 11-K SHO in July got their attention?).

      I was surprised he got the call when he did because he had given up a spate of HRs (seven in four starts, including two in Wilmington, the CrL’s answer to Petco) and looked like the 2012 edition the last time I saw him. I’d agree he’s still not ready for prime time and will need to continue making adjustments, especially in terms of command as he seemed to have difficulty putting away a guy when he got ahead. Ross Detwiler had the same problem, so it’s not a death knell.

      As for upside, he’s 22, lefthanded, has been clocked in the mid90s, though usually worked in the 91-93 range, and can throw the classic repetoire. That’s always going to garner attention. While I’m being a bit of a provocateur in this article in suggesting the GMs are pulling the wool over the eyes of each other, Scott’s comment cuts to the meat of the matter: The Nats got a known thing now in exchange for a couple of complementary players and perhaps a better thing later.

      1. Luke: I completely agree. I was just wondering if you had seen anything different. There was suddenly buzz all over the ‘net about Ray written by people who had never laid eyes on him. I saw him in 2012 in a game where he got totally rocked, something like six runs in three innings. Apparently he still had a few of those in 2013. He’s got potential, and he made AA at 21, but there still seems to be a fair amount of polishing needed before the Tigers will know what they’ve got.

        Meanwhile, the Nats got a proven guy at a reasonable rate. As far as the Nats’ system goes, it didn’t take nearly as much to get that proven starter as everyone thought it might.

        1. It seems to me that Ray’s ceiling is where Fister is now. Suffice it to say, I like this trade from the Nats’ side. Tigers fans that I know are beside themselves. The Nats traded a few years of potential for at least two years of what (in baseball) passes for a sure thing.

          OTOH, Dombrowski is by all accounts a really good GM. He picked up Fister on the cheap, got 2+ years of excellent production out of him for what amounts to pennies, and now flips him when his price tag starts going up. Every GM has clunker deals, but Dombroski’s record is what keeps me from rushing to judgment here. Even so, if you’re Rizzo you have to pull the trigger on this deal.

  8. It’s not like Rizzo traded a guy Like randy Johnson !!
    Good depth in farm for LHPs I have watched live

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