If you missed it yesterday, Doug Fister was traded to the Washington Nationals for super utility man Steve Lombardozzi, pitching prospects Robbie Ray, and Ian Krol. Comparing it to other deals of frontline starters R.A. Dickey, James Shields, or Matt Garza, the Nationals stole a better pitcher on a cheaper contract with more control. I have no idea why the return for Doug Fister was so disappointing, but I’d have to imagine that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski failed to leverage the Nationals into what should have been a blockbuster return. I’d have to imagine many teams would have given much more for what has been an ace for the last few seasons (over the last three seasons, he ranks 9th in pitcher WAR, between Cole Hamels and David Price).
Despite the Brewers not seemingly being in a position of contention, when a top of the rotation pitcher is available for next to nothing, you jump on it. The Brewers would normally not be able to construct a package to acquire a top of the rotation arm due to having a well below-average farm system. However, the Brewers could have easily constructed a package that is comparable to what the Nationals gave up.
The player ready to help Detroit right now is Steve Lombardozzi. He’s basically a replacement level player who provides a lot of defensive versatility. He’s able to play second base and the outfield. Despite his versatility, he’s not a particularly useful player. He provides next to no power posting a career ISO of .078. He also rarely walks with a BB% of merely 3.7%. His career wRC+ is 74. His ideal role is in AAA as depth in case there’s an injury at the Major League level where his versatility allows him to cover a lot of positions, but he cannot be a consistent contributor.
The most valuable piece of the trade was left handed minor leaguer Robbie Ray. He pitched in high A and AA this past year, and was pretty solid. Scouting reports coming out after the trade have his upside as a #3/4 type pitcher, though. He struggles with his command, but does have some nice strikeout ability.
The final player in the deal, Ian Krol is basically a throw-in. He’s nice AAA bullpen depth, but won’t likely be an impact reliever at the Major League level.
The Brewers could replace Lombardozzi with Norichika Aoki. Aoki is about a league average OF. The Tigers have been searching for a LF for some time, and even if they would like a LF better than Aoki, he serves as much better depth than what Lombardozzi could provide, and for a very similar price.
Instead of adding to the minor league system, the Brewers could move closer Jim Henderson to Detroit to help improve what was a weakness of the AL Central champs. Henderson provides DET with much improved bullpen depth, and facilitates their win-now attitude.
As a final piece to the deal, the Brewers could add a moderate prospect in their system or some AAAA type depth. This could include one of the following:
A package of Norichika Aoki, Jim Henderson, and Ariel Pena would be more valuable to a team looking to win now than Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray, and Ian Krol.
I can’t say that the Brewers missed an opportunity here, because they may never have had one. The Tigers may have rushed into this deal to open up some cash to get Joe Nathan. If the Brewers had known, and been quick to act, it could have mutually beneficial. The Brewers get their ace, and Detroit gets an outfielder, a cheap back-end piece, and some organization depth. Oh, what could have been.
Leave your comments below, your trade ideas, or just yell at me, your choice!