Longtime Arkansas pitching coach Dave Jorn speaks ...
Tigers move opens door for Smyly to start
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Drew Smyly throws during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in Detroit, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers traded right-hander Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for three players Monday night, opening a spot in their rotation and perhaps saving some money to keep Max Scherzer beyond next season.
Detroit received infielder Steve Lombardozzi, minor league lefty Robbie Ray (a 2010 UA signee) and reliever Ian Krol for Fister, a 14-game winner for the AL Central champions.
"We are excited to be adding three solid players to the organization," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a statement. "Robbie is a premium pitching prospect, Ian adds a quality left-handed young arm for the bullpen and Steve provides our ballclub with versatility in several roles as a switch-hitting utility man.
"This affords us the opportunity to move the left-handed arm of Drew Smyly into the starting rotation where we are confident he will do well," the statement said.
Smyly, a former Razorbacks standout from Little Rock, was one of the Tigers' top bullpen arms in 2013. He appeared 63 times in relief, recording a 2.37 earned run average in 76 innings, six wins and two saves.
The trade also might help the franchise afford to give Scherzer, the AL Cy Young Award winner, a new contract before he becomes a free agent following the 2014 season.
Detroit has had a busy offseason so far.
The Tigers traded first baseman Prince Fielder and his $214 million contract two weeks ago to the Texas Rangers in part to potentially save more than $75 million, giving them even more financial flexibility. They also allowed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to leave as a free agent for St. Louis.