Fister, who’ll soon turn 32, finished eighth in the Cy Young voting in 2014 after putting up a 2.41 ERA in his 164 frames for the Nationals. But that all evaporated last year, as he struggled with injury, saw his velocity drop, posted his lowest groundball rate (44.6%) and highest home run rate (1.22 HR/9) since his rookie year, and ultimately lost his rotation spot in D.C.
But there’s plenty to like about Fister as a bounceback candidate, too. The towering righty has never been terribly reliant on velocity and maintains outstanding control. He ended last year with a 4.19 ERA in 103 innings, along with a fairly typical 5.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9, so it’s not as if the season was a complete disaster. And he was one of the game’s more consistently productive starters over 2012-14, so it’s not like his glory days are well in the rearview.
For the Phillies, there’s no question that the team has the finances to sign Fister or any other pitchers that the team prefers, with the only significant limitation being the organization’s effort to avoid significant future entanglements that might compromise its rebuild. And there’s good reason pursue him for the Phils, who not only need the innings, but could conceivably end up cashing him in via trade if he returns to form. The larger question is whether they can woo a player like Fister, who could well receive strong interest from contenders, to join a club that is not expected to compete in 2016.