DETROIT (AP) — The busy Detroit Tigers traded right-hander Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for three players Monday night in a deal between teams with deep rotations.
Detroit acquired infielder Steve Lombardozzi, minor league lefty Robbie Ray and reliever Ian Krol for Fister, a 14-game winner for the AL Central champions.
Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said the trade was not done to save money in hopes of keeping Max Scherzer beyond next season.
"It gives us some flexibility for some other things we want to do," he said on a conference call.
Dombrowski said dealing Fister did not have anything to do with his hope to give Scherzer, the AL Cy Young Award winner, a new contract before he becomes a free agent following the 2014 season.
"I don't think that plays into it at all at this point," Dombrowski insisted.
Detroit has had an active offseason so far, and Dombrowski said he isn't done making moves, saying his top priority is to add a closer.
The Tigers traded slugging 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 got second baseman Ian Kinsler for Fielder in the swap of All-Stars.
They also allowed All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta to leave as a free agent for St. Louis after replacing him during last season with rookie Jose Iglesias just before Peralta was suspended for 50 games in the Biogenesis drug scandal.
"We're not cutting payroll whatsoever," Dombrowski said.
The Tigers did agree to a $1 million, one-year contract with utility player Don Kelly that avoids arbitration earlier Monday.
Kelly played six positions for the Tigers last season at all three spots in the outfield along with third, second and first base while hitting .222 with six homers and 23 RBIs.
Fister will likely replace Dan Haren in the Nationals' rotation and join Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez.
The 29-year-old Fister was 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA last season and was 32-20 in two-plus seasons in Detroit, which acquired him in a trade from the Seattle Mariners. He struck out an AL-record nine batters in a row against the Kansas City Royals late in the 2012 season.
The 6-foot-8 Fister fared well in the postseason, even when he was hit in the head by a line drive. He shook off the scary moment in Game 2 of the 2012 World Series against San Francisco and took a shutout bid into the seventh inning in what ended up being a 2-0 loss to the Giants. Over three postseasons with the Tigers, he had a 2.98 ERA in seven starts and a relief appearance.