washington nationals logoThis offseason is seriously going to be full of exciting trades, isn’t it?

According to Chris Cotillo, and later confirmed by Ken Rosenthal (does someone have a job offer lined up for Cotillo yet?), the Washington Nationals have picked up their front-end arm in the form of Doug Fister, coming over from the Detroit Tigers. The return is not yet known, but it’s going to be steep.

The Nationals have been in the market for a big-time arm for a while now, and the Tigers have been looking to trade an arm, but I don’t think anyone saw this particular trade coming. Fister, 29, is under control for two more seasons, and has been fantastic since coming to the Tigers back in 2011, by way of the Mariners (WAR the last three years: 5.2, 3.5, 4.6 – dude is legit). The Tigers were instead believed to be shopping Rick Porcello, or, to a lesser extent, Max Scherzer (who is a free agent after 2014).

The implications here are manyfold, and they mostly relate to Jeff Samardzija. First – and not related to Samardzija – the Nationals are out of the market for another arm, meaning they won’t be signing any free agent starters. Second – and related to Samardzija – the Nationals are out of the market for another arm, meaning they won’t be trading for Samardzija.

Getting to a more nuanced level, the impact to the Samardzija market is interesting here. On the one hand, the Cubs lose the Nationals as a possibility (if they’re looking to trade Samardzija, that is), and there was a plausible connection there. On the other hand, Porcello and Scherzer are now off of the market, meaning that the competition has decreased. I’m thinking this is a net positive for the Samardzija market.

Once we learn the return in the deal, the impact on a Samardzija trade could be even more significant here, given the parallels in Fister’s and Samardzija’s value (big righties with two years of control and great peripherals – though Samardzija is a year younger). So, I suppose when I said the return “is going to be steep,” I meant to say: “Let’s hope it’s steep.”

UPDATE (7:25pm): Early indications suggest an extremely, shockingly weak package. So I’m not even going to share them, because there’s no way the return is this small. *inserts fingers in ears, closes eyes*

UPDATE 2 (7:33pm): With the Nationals announcing the trade, I’ve got to open my eyes and unplug the ears. It’s Fister for meh utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi, decent young reliever Ian Krol, and organizational top ten pitching prospect Robbie Ray. That’s it. I am without speech. There should have been 28 – literally 28 – other teams lining up to blow that offer out of the water. Is there something wrong with Fister that we’re not aware of? If not, the expected return in any Samardzija deal just took a considerable dive. Fister is arguably better than Samardzija, and he just netted the Tigers a worse package than the Cubs got for two months of Matt Garza.

UPDATE 3 (8:44pm): This is going to vex my entire night. I’m trying to contextualize this package in Cubs terms. It’s not a perfect overlay, but something like Junior Lake, Justin Grimm, and Kyle Hendricks. That’s the range you’re looking at for that Nationals package, which got them two years of a cost-controlled starter who put up the 9th highest WAR total for starting pitchers *in all of baseball* over the past three years. I can’t recall a worse trade in recent memory. Here’s hoping that it’s so bad – and perceived by everyone to be so bad – that it has no impact on the trade value of Samardzija. Not because I want the Cubs to trade him, mind you. But I’d like them to have options that look a hell of a lot better than that Nats package.

  • TulaneCubs

    This trade looks so bad for the Tigers I think the rest of baseball is basically going to disregard it as an outlier. Every GM in baseball is going to be shaking their heads at this. When a GM looking for a starter and tries to point to the Fister trade, I have no doubt that Epstein, Freidman and Beane are all going to say,”If you’re going to use that as a basis of comparison, forget about it.”

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Does this weak package of prospects have any recourse for what a Samardzija trade package. Nationals got a steal

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      All I say is this trade doesn’t help our negotiating stance on a Samardzija trade. Both Frontline guys, 2yrs of control and Samardzija’s WAR or track record isn’t as good as Fister’s. About all Samardzija has on Fister is having better stuff and throwing harder

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    What a steal….

  • Blackhawks1963

    So its been insinuated by some that the Cubs will have a $100 M or so payroll in 2014. If I’m looking at all the math correctly (which I might not be, so correct me please) the Cubs current roster and salary raises would put the total at around $75 M or so. So that implies the Cubs are going to spend around $25 M on “new things.” We pretty much no TheoJed are NOT going to trade key prospects for productive veterans. And I have a real hard time seeing the Cubs in on Cano, Choo, Ellsbury, Garza, Santana.

    So WHERE then does this money get spent?!? Or am I missing something?!? Or is the payroll indeed going DOWN to the $75 M or so mark?!?

    • dAn

      Hey Blueberry, according to Muskat’s math, the Cubs are going to be around 80 mil with the arb-eligible guys included–before adding anything (and that’s taking into account the non-tenders).

    • willis

      I think it’ll be where it is. Plenty of filler bodies to finish off a roster and guarantee another lost season up top. All the moves going all around and the cubs just standing pat, other than some in house cleaning, I just can’t see them making any splashes. We’ll see.

  • Jason P

    If the Cubs gave up Pierce Johnson, Dan Vogelbach and Zach Rosscup for Fister, I wouldn’t have thought it was a bad deal. Actually, I probably would have loved it.

    The good news from the Cubs perspective is that there is absolutely no way, no how the Cubs are dealing Samardzija if they don’t get 3 times what the Nationals just got.

  • Isaac

    Hey, look on the bright side, Andrew Friedman just suggested he was considering trading Price for Schierholtz, Russell and Lake…

    • WilliamGlass

      Where did you read that at?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        He was making a funny.

        • Isaac

          Sorry, I should have clarified. I am just beside myself with this trade.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    GM Rizzo and GM Dombrowski both worked for the White Sox quite a few years back. Maybe Dave owed Mike from those days when the were working for Chaiman Reindorf.
    Debts can be paid in many ways.

  • Mike

    Fister is about the same age as jeff and has a more solid resume than jeff as well…so I am very shocked to see the nats get such a steal…i have a hard time believing any team will be willing to give up anything of value for jeff if they weren’t willing to give anything of value for fister even if jeff has one extra year of cost control than fister…fister is only making 4 mil next year and doesn’t need any grooming like samardzija still needs

    • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

      Fister up for arbitration and will make at least 6 or 7 million.

      • Mike

        still a bargain considering hed be worth at least 14 mil a year if on the open market

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Detroit might be freeing up cash to make a run at Cano. Kinsler can play 1B and Cano plays second. They saved long term money on Fielder and now Fister.

    • dAn

      That’s a great point–it wouldn’t shock me if they did that. If not Cano, they may be in on someone like Choo.

  • YourResidentJag

    Jerry Crasnick โ€@jcrasnick 48s
    #Redsox announce they’ve non-tendered pitcher Andrew Bailey and OF Ryan Kalish.

  • Rebuilding

    This had to be a salary dump. Even so they could have gotten a much better prospect package. I think Fielder was a salary dump as well. So either the old man has given up or they are making a run at Cano and Tanaka

    • YourResidentJag

      Strange salary dump, though, right???

      • Rebuilding

        Yeah, really strange. If you are just getting rid of the dollars then you could have surely gotten a top 50 prospect. Lombardozzi is…bad. Ray is ok but even we have better pitching prospects. Who knows. We couldn’t have gotten worse news today with Kazmir’s contract and this trade

        • YourResidentJag

          Yeah, not good for the Cubs today. Are they shopping Kinsler and how?

          • MichiganGoat

            For what it’s worth the local media here in Michigan has been purely speculating that Kinsler might get moved again and they will go after Cano. Basically swapping Fielder contract for Cano. Again this is just local media people speculating but this move has me wondering if this exactly what they trying to do.

            • Soda Popinski

              This is the most plausible hypothesis I’ve read. I don’t think adding Cano and losing Fielder and Fister makes you a better team. I mean, you could say Fielder and Cano could be a wash offensively, but then Fister? I guess they put Miggy at first, bring Castellanos up, rearrange some pieces… I don’t know.

              I like the Tigers, though. I’d like to win one before they lose this group. It will be interesting to see what they’re up to. All signs are pointing to something big.

              • YourResidentJag

                Trader Dave.

            • YourResidentJag

              Kinsler for CarGo and move him to LF and get Rockies 2b Herrera in deal as well? Then put Lombardozi at 2b?

  • cubsin

    If the Fister trade stands as a precedent, Samardzijah will still be a Cub through June.

    • hansman

      No “h” in Samardzija

      • jono

        I like the H.

        Samardzijah, rastafari. Pass to left.

  • Fastball

    Dombrowski got some incriminating photos back as part of this trade.

  • dieharderer

    On the bright side, this should lower the price on Brett Anderson. Compared to what Nat’s gave up for Fister, to be fair Anderson should now get about…nothing but payroll relief.

    • YourResidentJag

      I’d offer Junior Lake and Josh Vitters and see what they’d do.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. True.

  • http://Yahoo.com brandon.t

    After reading through the comments and seeing the tigers ripped i can’t help but thinking that the reason you don’t like the trade is because the lack of premier proospects. The tigers are not the cubs. They are trying to win now. Maybe they view lombardozi and kroll as immediate contributers to a championship contender. If so, good for them,.

    • YourResidentJag

      I guess…seems rushed for some reason I can figure. I mean the Winter Meetings aren’t even here yet.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Value is value, whether it’s a prospect or a big leaguer. Lombardozzi and Kroll have little of it.

    • jon

      Meh, if I’m trying to win now I keep Fister instead of trading him for trash

    • TulaneCubs

      If they think a middle reliever and a utility infielder have more value to their championship contender than a #2 caliber starter in the league, then Dave Dombrowski is a moron.

      • http://Yahoo.com brandon.t

        Well they may have the best staff in baseball with or without fister.

        • Rebuilding

          Yes they do, although the Nationals are in the running now. But why not try to get the best players you can for a guy? There are unsigned guys that are better than Lombardozzi and Krol

      • Stevie B

        Tulan, its MORAN.

        Get it right!

        • frank

          Only in St. Louis.

  • http://Yahoo.com brandon.t

    Well, to be honest i probably value lombardozi more than most. Just seems like a solid guy to have.

    • Rebuilding

      Lombardozzi’s slash last year was 259/278/338 for -0.5 oWAR so he must be a defensive wizard right? No, he was -0.2 dWAR. Steve Lombardozzi cost the Nats -0.7 wins last year as a platoon player.

      • http://Yahoo.com brandon.t

        Ya i never had much reason other than i just like him. I was basically just saying its not how we value them but how the tigers do. I just think they deserve the benefit of the doubt on this one

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I don’t think Lombardozzi is as bad, long term anyway, as those numbers make him look. I wouldn’t mind having him as a utility guy on the Cubs one day.

        I suppose Detroit could talk themselves into thinking that they picked up a future starting second baseman, but they’d have to talk awfully fast and ignore a whole lot of stuff to do it.

        • Rebuilding

          Really? He’s a utility guy that can’t play SS, plays 2b and 3b poorly and looks completely lost in the outfield. He had what was probably a career year two years ago with an OPS+ of 82. He doesn’t take walks and he has no power? I would much rather have Valbuena or Barney

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Word on him when he was in the minors was that he should be able to handle second and short. Just because he has struggled so far doesn’t mean he can’t do it at all.

            He has some value as a utility, switch hitting bench guy. No more than that, but he isn’t just a roster clogging hunk of dead weight.

            I can’t see him as a reliable starter, but I can imagine how Detroit could project that for him, at second anyway.

            In any decent deal he’d have been a throw in, though.

            • Rebuilding

              I know you are playing devil’s advocate to some degree, but I watched plenty of Nationals games this year. The only position he can play is 2b – and not very well

  • YourResidentJag


    Jerry Crasnick โ€@jcrasnick 1h
    I’m waiting for @ChrisCotillo to report what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow morning.

    • Tony_S

      I LOL’d.

  • Edwin

    I’m speechless at how terrible this trade is for the Tigers. I mean…what?

    • Dumpgobbler

      I generally try to give trades a chance, view them at different angles ect ect. I’ve tried here. I just can’t see any positive here. Even if DD LOVES Ray, which he must, you cant tell me a guy of Fisters value couldn’t fetch back better prospects. He wanted to improve the ML roster with Knol? Well, there should have been teams lined up offering better relief then that really. Just a terrible trade.

      • Rebuilding

        Barney, Russell and N Ramirez would have been more value. They must REALLY like Robbie Ray

  • North Side Irish

    Hopefully the trades are done for tonight because Cotillo has to go do his math homework now…seriously.

    • Rebuilding

      How does Cotillo get a scoop like this? Does his Dad work for the NSA?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        He worked for it. It took him a couple of years to build up a reputation as a reliable re-broadcaster of stories, to the point that a lot major national writers followed him as sort of a one-man wire service.

        And he just built it out from there. Now he seriously has agents feeding him info, front office sources around the league, etc.

        • MichiganGoat

          It’s very impressive for a high schooler he might not even need college to get a hell of a job after high school. It would make for a great book and movie one day.

          • YourResidentJag

            Yeah, well he’s got company: Ken Rosenthal โ€@Ken_Rosenthal 44m
            My man @THE_REAL_RICKLI was working his sources hard on the #Oriolesโ€™ trade. Kid has a future.

            • Tony_S

              PS, I would love to do what Cotillo has done over the past couple years as well, but I’ve got this damn thing called a JOB, which follows responsibilities like BILLS and CHILD….

              (TOTALLY not jealous…! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • college_of_coaches

    Looks like Michael Bowden has left for Japan and the Seibu Lions (per his Twitter account).

  • Joey

    Doing a little more digging and it seems like Robbie Ray is a legit prospect. 21 yrs old who did well in AA, left handed starter who sits in the mid-90s and touches 97.

    Jon Heyman retweeted this:
    Andrew Rickli โ€
    #Nationals player: “Robbie Ray is legit. A lefty touching 97.”

    Krol is only 22 with ML experience, Lombardozzi is a super-utilty player who will probably play more at 2nd once Kinsler gets hurt.

    It’s not as egregious as I thought when I first heard the names but still not really amazing value. If they could’ve gotten someone like Michael Taylor or Taylor Jordan instead of Lombardozzi or in addition to the package they got, I’d like it a lot more.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Ray is a very legit prospect, one I would have liked to have coming back to the Cubs in a Shark to Washington deal. But as the second piece in the deal, not the headliner.

      In the Cubs system, only Johnson or Edwards would likely outrank Ray, particularly given that Ray is a lefty. He is a nice pickup for Detroit.

      But as a package, for a player of Fister’s level, that is a package that is way under what the market has been supporting this winter. Detroit sold low. Very low.

      • Rebuilding

        Agreed. Ray is a nice prospect who broke out this year. Kind of a poor man’s CJ Edwards from the left side

  • ssckelley

    Dang, the Cubs should have made a deal with the Tigers just to flip him for a better package.

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    Ian Krol pitched against the Detroit Tigers on July 31st. 1 IP -Torii Hunter had a double in 11 pitch AB.

    So Detroit saw him upclose and personal. Must of made an impression of some sort.


    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

      3 pitches…was looking at something else..

  • jono

    If the Cubs could trade Samardzija for Bradley, I would be so happy

    read it like this —-> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_17RHGKNTY

    • jono

      Disclosure: there is adult language in the video from my link.

  • Drew7

    I thought this post from Dave Cameron put the trade in a pretty good perspective:


    My favorite part: the Nationals got pretty much the same return when they traded Michael Morse last year.

    • Tony_S

      Yes, this is a great piece.

      I think I’m more surprised by the reaction than I am the trade, and Cameron hits on why: his fastball sits at 89. If you look at that chart that shows how awesome Fister is, what’s the one outlier stat? His K%. I’m not saying I agree with it, I’m not saying it’s right, but precision and ground balls aren’t flashy, period. As a fairly serious fan who isn’t completely uncomfortable with advanced metrics, but at the same time hasn’t invested in 3 different kinds of FIPs and WARs like some of you smarter fellas have, I think there’s a great rabbit hole to go down here about where MLB GMs (and Dombrowski specifically) really are in their SABR usage.

      Which brings up another question: since Shark can at least spell “95”, does that support the Fister trade NOT affecting his value, even tho Fister is demonstrably better (and not by a little)? I say yes, and it goes back to that chart: if K% is the only thing Fister was lacking, it would probably be the only number Shark would have going for him, right?

      You can’t teach velocity. And while that should by no means be the sole guiding principle of a billion dollar organization, there is some validity to it, and it is obviously still alive and well out there.

      And it should mean we still can demand a shite-ton in return for Shark if he’s dealt.

  • Brian Peters

    No one on mlb network radio has called fister a “front-end arm,” and although I agree with nearly everything you write, Brett, you couldn’t be more wrong in your assertion. Stern and Bowden suggested the Nats rotation thusly: Strasberg, Zimmerman, Gonzalez, FISTER, and whoever else. That point made, Fister is ten times the pitcher Shark is. The best thing that can be said about Shark is he doesn’t have as many miles on his arm. Whoooooppppppeeeeee!

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    Further analysis on the Fister for LHP pitching trade; http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/2013/12/03/detroit-trade-a-solid-doug-fister-is-there-more-to-come/

    Critiques welcome.

  • Tony_S

    I really want to read the Cameron take above, but here’s my question about Fister: does he have smelly feet or something? Eat weird food? I haven’t looked, but I feel like he was a throw-in when the Tigers got him initially.

    That said, time is money, and the only thing I can conceptualize is this: from DD’s POV, they’ve been pretty openly looking to move a starter for most or all of the off-season. (Personally I never thought it was going to be Scherzer, although that was even thrown around. My guess was always Porcello.). What I think in essence happened is he got sick of F’ng around about it, and/or he values Porcello higher than the offers he was getting… Sound familiar? *cough, Shark, cough* So the Nats say “Ha, no way we give you XYZ for Porcello, but how about ABC for Fister?” “Fine, I’ve got other things to do…”

    …Like make that move for Cano. A couple people have said it on here already, but I absolutely see them making that push, whether we hear about it or not. I think the -Fielder +Cano theory was probably spot on.

    As to the actual return, I don’t know these pieces at all (except Lombo, smells a lot like Theriot-lite, I’m sure he’s “scrappy”), but it’s starting to sound like not TOO bad, especially for a guy, again, who has smelly feet or whatever. You don’t find lefties touching 97 just laying around.

  • J.F.Edwards

    Here’s hoping the fact that Detroit didn’t utilize his potential and that no team stepped up to offer more, means something significant-we-don’t-know is going on.

    Look, I don’t want to root against FIster or anyone. But if there’s blood in the water and sharks don’t go for it, there’s got to be a reason.

    No way Detroit dealt Fielder and then shopped Fister and couldn’t find a better deal–they simply can’t be that stupid. No effing way. They’re in contention.

    At least, that’s the theory.

    So, I have to think something is afoot with Fister.


  • Leo

    Orioles and A’s completea trade. Johnson for Weeks (the younger brother). A good closer for 1 mediocre prospect.

    • Brains

      ::urge to write devastating hyperbolic comment rising::

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      For one mediocre non-prospect … and the $10 million he’s going to cost in 2014.

      • http://comicsandcardsupplies.com cms0101

        Yep, it’s all about the money here. Weeks was a prospect 5 years ago.