DETROIT – 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 pitcher Max Scherzer beyond next season.
The trade came as teams had until midnight to offer 2014 contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters. After a player receives a contract offer, his team no longer can release him before the start of the season without giving him termination pay. That means a club would be responsible for about one-sixth of the salary, which could be a large amount if the player is eligible for arbitration.
Clubs often use the tender deadline as leverage to force agreements with players they wont go to arbitration with. Among the players let loose were Boston right-hander Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Kalish, Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner and Kansas City infielder Chris Getz.
Washington obtained Fister for infielder Steve Lombardozzi and left-handers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol. Fister was 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA last season for the AL Central champions, who last month traded slugging first baseman Prince Fielder to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler and appear to be opening payroll space to get Scherzer a long-term deal.
Fister joins a talented Nationals rotation that already includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez.
With an excess of catching after reaching an agreement to sign Brian McCann, the New York Yankees traded Chris Stewart to Pittsburgh for a player to be named. The Yankees also finalized a $5 million, two-year contract with shortstop Brendan Ryan, who became their starter in September when Derek Jeter went back on the disabled list.
Pitcher Scott Kazmir was closing in on a $22 million, two-year contract with Oakland. The deal is pending a physical, a person said, speaking of anonymity because the team hadnt finalized the deal. The 29-year-old left-hander went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts and 158 innings last season for Cleveland and becomes part of a rotation that includes Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray and A.J. Griffin.
Willie Bloomquist agreed to return to Seattle pending a physical expected to take place this week, a baseball official with knowledge of the deal said, also speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal wasnt final. Bloomquist spent his first seven big league seasons with Seattle and the past three with Arizona. He hit .317 for the Diamondbacks this year but had just 139 at-bats.
Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed to an $8 million, two-year contract with Toronto that pays $3 million next year and $5 million in 2016. The 29-year-old batted .300 with a career-high 13 homers and 34 RBI in 89 games for the Chicago Cubs last season. An All-Star in 2008, he has not played more than 89 games in a season since 2009 because of injuries.
Among players eligible for arbitration getting one-year deals were Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers ($950,000), Detroit outfielder Don Kelly and Cleveland right-handers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood. In agreements announced Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers reached deals with outfielder Mike Baxter and catcher Drew Butera ($700,000 each) and left-hander Scott Elbert ($575,000).