The Washington Nationals have acquired starting pitcher Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The Tigers receive utility man Steve Lombardozzi and young pitchers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol. Both teams confirmed the report.
The 6'8 Fister, who will turn 30 in February, is known as a pitch-to-contact hurler who excels at inducing ground balls. His 54.3 percent ground-ball rate in 2013 ranked fourth in the majors, as did his 2.23 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio. His ability to keep the ball on the ground also makes him excellent at limiting home runs; his rate of 0.60 home runs per nine innings ranked 11th in baseball last season. Furthermore, his career rate of 0.7 home runs per nine innings suggests that his home run suppression is a sustainable skill. He is also known for his pinpoint control, having walked only 1.8 batters per nine innings in his career. Fister holds the American League record for consecutive strikeouts, with nine on Sept. 27, 2012.
The Nationals' rotation already boasted three strong starters in Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. Strasburg, 25, is considered an elite young pitcher, Gonzalez won 21 games with a 2.89 ERA in 2012 and finished third in the Cy Young voting that year, and Zimmermann won 19 games with a 3.25 ERA last season and finished seventh for the Cy Young. The addition of Fister gives the Nats one of the most fearsome rotations in baseball.
Fister is eligible for arbitration this offseason, and is estimated to earn $6.9 million by MLB Trade Rumors. He can become a free agent after the 2015 season.
The Tigers received a 22-year-old left-handed reliever in Krol and a 22-year-old left-hander in Ray. Krol made 32 appearances and had a 3.95 ERA. Ray split time between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg and was ranked No. 5 on the Nationals' farm by Baseball America. Lombardozzi is a 25-year-old switch hitter who hit .259 with a .616 OPS in 307 plate appearances for the Nationals in 2013.
Fister was acquired by the Tigers from the Seattle Mariners in 2011 and has pitched well for the team since then. In 2013, he went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 208⅔ innings while posting a 3.61 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has also been effective in the postseason, appearing in eight games (seven starts) and going 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA.