Looking back: Detroit Tigers trading Doug Fister was a terrible idea


With the 2014 season over, it’s time to reflect on another year of baseball. Detroit Tigers GM David Dombrowski held a press conference this past week in which he fielded questions about the Tigers future, as well as their past. And in a flurry of questions, somebody asked whether or not he (Dombrowski) regretted trading Doug Fister. Dombrowski responded by saying this…

"“I don’t regret the deal, It was a situation at the particular time that we were making a move. Our starting pitching was not our downfall this year.”"

Obviously Dombrowski is going to say he doesn’t regret the deal; what’s he going to do? Look at those reporters and say “yup, I really screwed up on that one.” Thank again…

But looking back at this deal and examining how both the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals benefitted from this deal, it’s safe to say this trade was one of the worst in recent Tigers memory.

When this trade occurred, just about everybody in the baseball world was shocked. And who wouldn’t be? Here’s a breakdown of the deal to jog your memory…

Many were skeptics at first, but maybe Dowmbrowski was seeing something others weren’t (that’s basically how Detroit acquired Fister in the first place). But after the 2014 season it’s safe to say this trade hurt the Tigers much more than it helped them.

Robbie Ray went 1-4 with a 8.16 ERA in 6 starts. Steve Lombardozzi didn’t even play a single game for Detroit as he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Alex Gonzalez (we won’t even get into that mess) during Spring Training. As for Ian Krol, he pitched 32.2 inning out of the bullpen, accumulating a 4.96 ERA. Not much can be said about Lombardozzi as he never even donned the English D once, but as for Krol and Ray, not many expectations were met.

In Washington, Doug Fister started off the year on the DL, but once he got back on the mound, the 6’9 righty brought the heat. Fister ended the year with a 16-6 record and a 2.41 ERA in 25 starts.

On all accounts, this trade is not a good one. The Tigers gave up a frontline starter for some spare parts; obviously these players have time to grow but for  team that was in “win now” mode, there was no rationalizing this deal. Terry Foster of the Detroit News puts it best…

Good pitching is incredibly difficult to come by in professional baseball, so don’t give it up unless the return is out of this world. And in this case, the return was far from being out of this world. Sure, Fister was a commodity but the Tigers certainly could have used him in dire times. Ray can be something someday, but that doesn’t help Detroit today. If the Tigers were in rebuilding mode this trade wouldn’t have been all that bad, but it’s not rebuilding time. Overall, it’s just very difficult to find the logic in this deal.

But perhaps what made even worst was the domino effect that followed Fister’s departure. Drew Smyly was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. So basically one of the worst bullpens in baseball got even worst as they lost their go-to long relief guy. And had Fister stayed in the Motor City, it’s likely David Price wouldn’t have been acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays, meaning Austin Jackson would still be patrolling CF.

On all accounts, the Doug Fister trade hurt the Tigers more than it helped them.