There’s always risk involved when teams trade away young talent to acquire players that can make a more immediate impact, just as the Nationals did earlier this offseason when they acquired Jerry Blevins and Doug Fister.
Will they get injured? Will they have trouble adjusting to a new league? Will the team regret giving up promising prospects like Billy Burns and Robbie Ray? Who knows. It’s impossible to predict the outcome of a trade when the players have yet to throw one pitch in their new uniforms.
However, the Nationals already know one outcome of these trades, even before watching these two players pitch. The team knows that in Fister and Blevins, they have acquired two guys who only have one goal in mind: to help the Nationals win the World Series.
“We’re here to do what we can to win a World Series. Having the fan base that we do here, that’s what we need, that’s what we want and that’s what we have,” Fister said at NatsFest on Saturday.
Not only is Fister excited to do his part in helping the team achieve its goal, but he is also excited to play with his new teammates and to pitch at Nationals Park.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this staff because of the guys that we have here. Not just on the staff, but in the club house,” Fister said. “Being able to receive phone calls and text messages from teammates is really special to me. Nationals ballpark is just a terrific ball park. It’s not cheap and it’s well deserved. I’m looking forward to be able to play with the teammates that we have. I’m going to go up there and say swing at it, hit it, and hit it to one of our guys. I’m excited.”
Moving to a new league is something that often causes a lot of problems for some players, particularly pitchers. Fortunately for the Nationals, Fister does not expect it to be a problem at all.
“My modest opinion is that I’m going to come out here and attack hitters the same way I attacked them in the American League and let them tell me if something needs to be changed,” Fister said.
As for Blevins, he will also play a major role for the Nationals in 2014, as he will be in charge of getting tough left-handed hitters out late in the game. While this is no small task, Blevins is confident that he will be able to get the job done for his new team.
“I’ll be ready for any situation I get called upon,” Blevins said. “I will be prepared to face the toughest left-handed hitters on their team. What you’re going to get is a guy that’s ready to go everyday.”
Fister and Blevins both pitched for playoff teams last season (Tigers and Athletics respectively), and they know what it takes to help their team get to October. Perhaps the very fact that these two players are playoff-tested more than makes up for the fact that the team had to give up some very good prospects. Only time will tell if this is true, but it certainly seems to be what general manager Mike Rizzo was thinking when he traded for these two players in December.
“To get a player of Doug’s performance level, we had to give up a really good prospect in Robbie Ray,” Rizzo said. “[That being said], we couldn’t be happier to add him to our starting rotation. We wanted someone who we could control and have with us for a long time. We traded a very high upside prospect in Billy Burns for a guy that will really be the stalwarts for the left side of our bullpen in Jerry Blevins. It’s really a testament to our scouting and player development departments that we could land these two players for our 2014 season. Both players have quality playoff experience and that is very important for us.”
When it comes to trades that involve losing high quality prospects, there are always risks involved. However, one thing is for certain. In Fister and Blevins, the Nationals have two guys who are ready to help their team win. And in the end, that’s all that matters.