Why we can't forget the Tigers' Doug Fister trade

Once considered the centerpiece of that deal, Robbie Ray is now headed to Arizona as Shane Greene comes to Detroit

Brian Manzullo
Detroit Free Press
Jul 22, 2014; Detroit Tigers pitcher Ian Krol.

On Dec. 3, 2013, the Detroit Tigers traded right-handed starter Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for pitchers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol, as well as infielder-outfielder Steve Lombardozzi.

Today, that package has turned into Krol, right-hander Shane Greene and two weeks of Alex Gonzalez.

In better detail, here's how that trade has developed thus far, player by player:

Washington Nationals

Doug Fister: One of his best seasons as a major-leaguer. After a solid 2013 season, Fister was in line for a hefty raise from his $4-million salary. Because of that, many considered this deal to be a salary dump for Detroit. After the trade, Fister earned a $7.2-million verdict in arbitration from Washington. In 2014, despite missing the first part of the season with a strained lat muscle, Fister had one of his best seasons since joining the major leagues in 2009. He posted a 16-6 record with a 2.41 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 164 innings (25 starts) in Washington. The 30-year-old could get another raise through arbitration this coming season and will be a free agent afterward.

Detroit Tigers

Robbie Ray: Traded to Arizona after one season. Considered the centerpiece of the Tigers' haul in the trade, Ray, a 23-year-old lefty, turned out to be a disappointment. He put up a 1-4 record with an 8.16 ERA in nine major-league games, including six starts. In Triple-A Toledo, he was 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 20 games (19 starts). Today, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 3-team deal that sent New York Yankees right-hander Shane Greene to Detroit.

"Young starting pitchers who are on the verge of pitching in the big leagues that have a projection to be No. 3 starters or above are hard to find and also are not easily acquired," Dombrowski said at the time of the Fister trade. "We think this guy is a premium young left-handed pitcher who is on the verge of pitching in the big leagues, and they aren't easy to find."

Ian Krol: Sent to minors before end of 2014 season. Krol, a 23-year-old lefty, went into the Tigers' bullpen and, though he started the season well, he didn't make it to the end of it. His numbers turned out to be a 4.96 ERA, 1.68 WHIP and 28 strikeouts in 32.2 innings (45 games). He was sent to Triple-A Toledo on July 31, 2014. In Toledo, Krol put up a 3.86 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in seven innings of relief (eight games). He wasn't even part of the September call-ups and didn't pitch in the postseason.

Dombrowski called Krol "a quality young left-hander who is ready to be one of our lefties in the bullpen and who projects to be a No. 1-type lefty" at the time of the Fister trade.

Steve Lombardozzi: Traded to Baltimore in spring training. The Tigers wanted Lombardozzi to replace Ramon Santiago, a free agent they elected not to bring back. While Santiago was a competent back-up shortstop, the Nationals didn't trust Lombardozzi to play that position. When Jose Iglesias was sidelined for the season with shin fractures, the Tigers didn't want to turn shortstop over to Lombardozzi, so they traded him to the Baltimore Orioles during spring training for veteran Alex Gonzalez. Lombardozzi went on to play 20 games in Baltimore, hitting .288 with no home runs, two RBIs, six runs, no walks and 14 strikeouts in 73 at-bats. The Iglesias injury also brought about the deal with the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Andrew Romine; the Tigers gave up left-hander Jose Alvarez.

Lombardozzi "is one of the best utility players in baseball -- he can help us at second, short, third, outfield," Dombrowski said at the time of the Fister trade.

Alex Gonzalez: Acquired by Detroit, then released a month later. Acquired by the Tigers in a swap for Lombardozzi. Gonzalez, despite hitting a walk-off single for the Tigers on Opening Day, lasted just nine games, hitting .167 with no homers, two RBIs and four runs to go along with three fielding errors at shortstop before the Tigers released him April 20, 2014.

Shane Greene: Acquired by Detroit today. We're about to find out.

Contact Brian Manzullo: bmanzullo@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrianManzullo.