2016 Detroit Tigers offseason goal: Bring back Doug Fister

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Dave Dombrowski has made some amazing trades in his tenure with the Detroit Tigers. But he has had his misses as well.

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I would argue that the hits greatly outweigh the misses, but as sports fans are wont to do, the negative will always grab the spotlight.

The December 2013 trade of Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray and Ian Kroll may never be forgotten.

Lombardozzi is gone, never playing a real game for Detroit before being dealt to Baltimore for Alex Gonzalez (who was also gone shortly after). Ray had a forgettable first and only year in the Tigers’ organization after a few promising big league starts. Eventually he was cast off in a solid three-team deal that brought Shane Greene to Detroit. Kroll is still here, but after his performance in 2014, most fans probably wish he wasn’t.

All of that has the makings of a bad deal, but there is some logic to it. Fister was on the road to two more arbitration seasons. With all of the players the Tigers had in arbitration, it would be a costly proposition. Much like how the team was willing to depart with arbitration-eligible Rick Porcello this offseason (dealt for Yoenis Cespedes), they were trying to stay somewhat fiscally responsible through a wave of large contracts.

But this isn’t to dump on the trade again. That’s been beaten to death. Good trades happen, bad trades happen, MEH trades happen, and they all happen all the time.

The 2015 offseason is a couple of days from being over as we transition to Spring Training. Much like how NFL pundits begin looking at a draft board in Week 1 of the football season, it is never too easy to begin to think about the next Hot Stove League.

This is why it would be wise for the Detroit Tigers to bring back Doug Fister in 2016.

Fister is a free agent after this year and despite having a tremendous string of success in Detroit and then Washington last year. He probably can come at a reasonable price, perhaps in the area of Anibal Sanchez‘s 5-year, $80 million deal signed in the 2013 offseason (adjusted for inflation of course). Odds are great the Nationals will not reupp with Fister considering their mega deal given to Scherzer.

He will be 32 after next season, so perhaps five years would be too long but three years with a club option for a fourth year is not out of the question. Fister, like Max Scherzer, has seemingly found his game in his late 20’s/early 30’s. After missing some time to injury the first month of last year, he went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.079 WHIP.

No one knows what will happen with David Price. Both sides have said they are interested in a long-term deal. That could affect how the Tigers proceed next offseason whether they have resigned Price or will be looking to resign him when he hits the open market. Signing both could always be a possibility.

I do not advocate bringing Doug Fister back to Detroit so fans will stop complaining about the deal. I would advocate Fister coming back to Detroit because it would be in the best interests of the team.

Not having to discuss the trade as much would just be a bonus.

Next: Brad Ausmus bullpen management key for Tigers

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