Detroit Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters this week that though the 2014 campaign didn't go as planned, he didn't regret the trade that sent Doug Fister to Washington last winter in return for infielder Steve Lombardozzi and left-handers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray.
Dombrowski once again defended the deal when asked about it, saying it wasn't the Tigers' pitching that led to their early exit from the postseason.
"'I don’t regret the deal,'" Dombrowski said.
"'It was a situation at the particular time that we were making a move.
"'Our starting pitching was not our downfall this year, particularly early in the year, and then really what it came down to when we made the [David] Price acquisition, it was more of a situation where – it was kind of two-fold, but really at that point there, [starter Justin] Verlander was not the Verlander from the year before, so we felt that we needed to do something to kind of help ourselves at the top of the rotation, and that’s what ended up taking place at that particular time.
"'But when you look at the five starters we had early in the season, they pitched very well for us,'" Dombrowski said. "'I know that Ray wasn’t ready, but we still like Ray as we go forward.'"
Ray, 23, made his MLB debut in May.
In nine games, six of them starts for the Tigers, the Nationals' 2010 12th Round pick was (1-4) with an 8.16 ERA, a 5.23 FIP, 11 walks (3.45 BB/9) and 19 Ks (5.97 K/9) in 28 ⅔ IP.
With Detroit's Triple-A affiliate, the 6'2'' lefty was (7-6) in 20 games, 19 starts and 100 ⅓ IP over which he put up a 4.22 ERA, a 4.05 FIP, 44 walks (3.95 BB/9) and 75 Ks (5.97 K/9).
In his final year in the Nats' organization in 2013, Ray was (6-3) in 16 starts for High-A Potomac with a 3.11 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 41 walks (4.39 BB/9) and 100 Ks (10.72 K/9) in 84 IP and (5-2) at Double-A Harrisburg with a 3.72 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 21 walks (3.26 BB9) and 60 Ks (9.31 K/9) in 58 IP.
After the December 2013 trade, Dombrowski said Ray was a "key to the deal," because he provided the Tigers with a starter who was major-league ready when the organization was in need of pitching.
"'It was important to us to get a guy who’s knocking on the door to our big league level,'" Detroit's GM said last winter.
Lombardozzi was dealt before the 2014 campaign began. Krol, 23, posted a 4.96 ERA, a 5.18 FIP, 13 walks (3.58 BB/9) and 28 Ks (7.71 K/9) in 32 ⅔ IP out of the Tigers' pen.
What grade does Ian Krol deserve for 2014? http://t.co/HkN3ukasvb— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) October 15, 2014
While both Ray and Krol could help the Tigers in the future, the Nationals' acquisition of the 30-year-old Fister was a win-now move and the 6'8'' right-hander was as-advertised in his first season with Washington.
Though his season started late after a right lat strain sidelined him at the end of Spring Training, the six-year veteran finished the year (16-6) in 25 starts with a 2.41 ERA, a 3.93 FIP, 24 walks (1.32 BB/9) and 98 Ks (5.38 K/9) in 164 IP over which he was worth +1.3 fWAR (down from +4.5 in 2013).
In his one postseason appearance, Fister led the Nationals to their only win in the NLDS, throwing seven scoreless innings on the mound in AT&T Park in the Nats' 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.
Ian Desmond said the acquisition of Fister was a "huge" part of the Nats' success.
"He goes out there every single time he pitches," Bryce Harper said after the Game 3 win, "he's got the enthusiasm that we need on and off the field, and being able to come in and do what he did today, keep them off-balance, being able to pitch and do the things that he did today was unbelievable."
Before he took the mound for his only postseason start, Nationals' first baseman Adam LaRoche talked about how important the acquisition was to Washington's run to the NL East division crown.
"I don't know that we are in this situation without Doug this year," LaRoche told reporters.
"He missed a big part of the year. I don't know how many starts he missed. The guy has been key. I think he's helped our other starters a ton. I think he's helped the other starters watching not only the way he works between starts, but his approach when he is starting, and the way he attacks hitters.
"You know, the guy doesn't break 90 miles an hour very often. He has a knack for sawing guys off, which is pretty tough to do, with that velocity. He has figured it out. He is not afraid to pitch all the way around. I think everybody has been more than pleased with Doug. Great guy. Great competitor. Never wants to come out of the ballgame. If it was up to him, he would go nine every fifth day."
Ray and Krol have years ahead of them to prove the Tigers' GM made a good deal for Detroit.
Fister is under team control through the 2015 campaign before he reaches free agency unless the Nationals are able to sign him to an extension.
The two sides reportedly discussed an extension after he was acquired, according to a report by Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore.
While they failed to agree on a long-term contract, Fister and the Nats were able to avoid arbitration, agreeing on a 1-year/$7.2M deal.
I think it's safe to say the Nationals don't regret the trade either.
Will Rizzo's win-now move pay off for the Nationals next season?