Doug Fister, 29, was 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA last season for the Tigers. He was 32-20 in two-plus seasons with Detroit.
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 Max Scherzer beyond next season.
Detroit received infielder Steve Lombardozzi, relief pitcher Ian Krol, and minor league lefty Robbie Ray 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.
It 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.
Fister is going from one stacked rotation to another. He will likely replace Dan Haren in the rotation and join Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez.
Fister, 29, 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 American League-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.
Ray, 22, pitched was 6-3 with a 3.11 ERA for Class-A Potomac and was 5-2 with a 3.72 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg.
Krol made his major league debut in June for the Nationals after they acquired him from Oakland. The 22-year-old lefty was 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 32 games in Washington.
Lombardozzi, 25, hit .259 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 118 games for the Nationals last season. The switch-hitting sparkplug played 48 games at second base, 23 in left field and four games at third base in 2013.
KELLY SIGNS: The Tigers and utility player Don Kelly have agreed to terms on a one-year contract that avoids arbitration.
Kelly played six positions for 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.
He has a career batting average of .229 with 23 homers and 88 RBIs over five seasons with the Tigers and one with Pittsburgh.
Also, the Tigers have signed three players to minor-league contracts.
Detroit signed 1B Mike Hessman, RHP Eduardo Sanchez and LHP Patrick McCoy.
Hessman played for the Mud Hens from 2005-09 and is the franchise's all-time leader in career home runs (140) and RBIs (373), among other categories.