Tuesday was a crazy day in Major League Baseball with a flurry of trades and free agent signings flooding the news cycle. The biggest, splashiest move of the day was outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury signing a seven-year, $153 million contract with the New York Yankees.
Earlier in the day, however, baseball fans, reporters and analysts were still trying to make sense of the Detroit Tigers trading pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for three seemingly nondescript players on Monday night.
The consensus was that the Tigers made a terrible trade, swapping a very good starting pitcher under team control for two more seasons (for a less expensive price) for what appeared to be spare parts. I had the same opinion.
But after sleeping on it, I tried to figure out what general manager Dave Dombrowski was thinking in my latest piece for The Outside Corner. Surprising as it might be, I think he had an eye on the future and seized the opportunity to get a young pitcher he liked in 22-year-old Robbie Ray.
However, general manager Dave Dombrowski apparently thinks highly of Ray, a 22-year-old left-hander. Though he was the Nationals' No. 5 prospect in Baseball America's view, Ray is the centerpiece of this deal for the Tigers. He gives their minor league system a top young arm it was lacking since Jacob Turner was traded to the Marlins two years ago in the swap that brought Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit. Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parkslisted Jonathan Crawford — their 2013 first-round pick — as the Tigers' No. 1 pitching prospect prior to getting Ray. He surely becomes Detroit's best minor league arm now.
The Tigers followed the trade up quickly by signing reliever Joe Nathan to a two-year deal, providing the closer that the bullpen sorely needed. But there is surely more to come with baseball's winter meetings being held next week in Orlando.