Apr 15, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Stephen Lombardozzi throws over to first base in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
In return for Doug Fister, the Washington Nationals will send the Detroit Tigers a trio of players: utility man Steve Lombardozzi, left-handed reliever Ian Krol, and left-handed starting pitching prospect Robbie Ray. Here’s a (very) little bit about the newest Tigers:
Steve Lombardozzi is the switch-hitting version of Don Kelly. I mean, not really exactly at all, but he’s a play-everywhere utility player who doesn’t hit a lick. He’s no more than a throw-in piece for the Tigers. Lombardozzi is relatively young, he’s just 24, but he owns a career OPS of just .639 (compare that to Kelly’s .634 career OPS) and doesn’t figure to improve a whole heckuva lot. He’s a pre-arb guy, so at least he’s cheap.
Ian Krol, besides perhaps being of Dutch ancestry, is a 22-year old left-handed reliever who just completed his first big league season. He made 32 appearances for Washington (27.1 innings) and posted a 3.95 ERA with 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings but allowed too many home runs (5). His minor league history suggests more strikeouts and fewer dingers, so perhaps the Tigers will see some improvement in his second big league season.
Robbie Ray will be the key to the trade for the Tigers. The 22-year old lefty split the season between Advanced-A and AA — so he’s probably a few years away — but he figures to rank highly in the Tigers’ minor league system. Jason Parks, top prospect guru at Baseball Prospectus, thinks he becomes the Tigers’ number one pitching prospect.
Ray struck out 10.1 batters per nine inning last year in the minors, so he appears to have the type of strikeout arm that the Dave Dombrowski covets, but he’s far from a sure thing. His walk totals weren’t crazy high for a pitcher with that kind of strikeout rate — around four per nine — but neither does he appear to be anything of a control artist.
It’s hard to like this trade for the win-now Tigers — they’re certainly giving up talent in the short term — but the deal could end up as a win for the Tigers if Ray turns into something at least as good as Fister. Unfortunately, he’s probably at least a year away from the big leagues, if not two.