The Nationals made one of the offseason’s biggest splashes by acquiring Doug Fister from the Tigers (in exchange for left-handed starter Robbie Ray, infielder Steve Lombardozzi and lefty reliever Ian Krol), but according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the team tried to double down on that move by signing Fister to a long-term deal. Talks never got very far off the ground, however, according to Kilgore’s report. Fister himself wouldn’t comment on the situation.
Washington GM Mike Rizzo employed a similar tactic when he acquired Gio Gonzalez from the Athletics prior to the 2012 season, signing him to a five-year, $42.5MM contract with a pair of $12MM club options. Locking up Fister would have ensured that the team’s rotation could be fronted by Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez and Fister through at least the 2016 season. Washington tried to lock up its other top starter, Jordan Zimmermann, this offseason as well. Instead, they agreed to a two-year, $24MM contract that gave the team cost certainty but didn’t buy any further team control.
Over the past three seasons, Fister has pitched to a 3.30 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent ground-ball rate in 586 2/3 innings. In that time, his 13.3 fWAR and 12.6 rWAR each rank ninth in the Major Leagues. In place of a multi-year deal, he and the Nationals agreed to a $7.2MM salary for the 2014 season. Washington controls Fister through 2015, and he is set to make his team debut on Friday against the A’s.