Former Washington Nationals' GM and current ESPN writer and Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio host Jim Bowden gave the Nats an "A" for the winter on his mid-December report cards, noting that they brought Matt Williams in, added Jerry Blevins to the bullpen, signed Nate McLouth for the bench and acquired Doug Fister for the rotation to fill all four of their obvious needs. And Fister in particular, Bowden wrote, was acquired in return for three "nonelite" players in Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and Robbie Ray.
Bowden's colleague at ESPN, Buster Olney, ranked the Nationals third overall on his list of the 10 Best Rotations in the majors, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers, who dealt Fister, but had Drew Smyly in house to replace him. The Nationals had the seventh best ERA amongst starters last season, Mr. Olney noted, and that was before adding Fister to the mix with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and either Ross Detwiler, Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark or Ross Ohlendorf.
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USA TODAY writer Paul White named Fister, who is due a nice raise after he avoided arbitration by signing a 1-year/$4M deal last January, as his ideal fourth starter for a post in which he assembled a fantasy roster that he explained is not necessarily an, "...all-star team but rather a realistic 25-man roster: a No. 1 starter, No. 2 starter, No. 3 starter, etc., a bullpen with each role covered, a starting lineup and a complete bench."
Fister, who will turn 30 next month, finished his fifth major league season with a (14-9) record, a 3.67 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 44 walks (1.90 BB/9) and 159 Ks (6.86 K/9) in 33 games, 32 starts and 208 2/3 IP over which he was worth +4.6 fWAR. Fister finished fourth amongst Tigers' starter in fWAR behind Justin Verlander (+5.2), Anibal Sanchez (+6.2) and Max Scherzer (+6.4), but would have been the highest fWAR pitcher on the Nationals, who were led by Zimmermann (+3.6, 28th in the majors). Fister's 5.0 BB% was 12th lowest in the majors, his 53.4% GB% was fourth highest amongst MLB starters.
Naionals' GM Mike Rizzo's counting on the Nats' infield defense to help Fister improve on those numbers. "'With our defensive alignment I think that he’ll thrive here,'" Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, after the trade with Detroit. "'He’s a guy that does a lot of the little things that will really translate into the National League.'" Fister's due to get a raise with informed guesstimates putting his 2014 salary somewhere around $7M and he's under team control for 2015 as well. After giving Edwin Jackson (+2.2 fWAR) a 1-year/$11M deal in 2012 and Dan Haren (+1.5fWAR) $13M last season, Fister at $7M only makes the Nats' trade for the right-hander look better and better.
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