Right-hander Doug Fister and his agents at PSI Sports Management have been seeking a two-year contract worth a guaranteed total of about $22MM this offseason, a source tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
Fister has reportedly drawn interest from a number of clubs this offseason, including the Phillies, Marlins and Tigers, although each of those teams has added rotation help since initially being connected to the soon-to-be 32-year-old. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets that the Orioles like Fister quite a bit but aren’t interested in going anywhere near Crasnick’s reported price tag in order to lure him to Baltimore.
Entering the 2015 season, Fister was part of what looked to be a star-studded class of elite and second-tier arms that were slated to hit the open market this winter. However, the 2015 campaign was the worst of his career by nearly any measure. Fister, of course, began the season in one of the game’s deepest rotations (Nationals), but he surprisingly struggled to the point where he lost his starting job and was moved to the bullpen. While he’s never thrown hard in the past, Fister opened the season averaging just over 86 mph on his fastball and eventually landed on the disabled list in mid-May with a bout of forearm tightness. He returned about a month later but didn’t see much in the way of improved results. All told, he recorded an uncharacteristic 4.60 ERA across 15 starts in his second (and presumably final) season with the Nats. In those 15 starts, Fister logged 86 innings (about 5 2/3 innings per outing) and struck out just 48 hitters — an average of 5.2 per nine innings. Fister’s 4.63 FIP, 4.60 xFIP and 4.70 SIERA all matched his unsightly ERA, and his 42 percent ground-ball rate out of the rotation this season was the lowest of his career.
While there’s clearly a long list of red flags surrounding Fister, the upside he brings to the table is also tantalizing. From 2011-14, Fister was one of baseball’s most underrated player, recording a pristine 3.11 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 50.5 percent ground-ball rate across 750 2/3 innings. He landed on the DL a few times in that stretch for a strained lat muscle and a pair of strained muscles in his side — nothing arm-related — and averaged 188 innings per season in that time (201 per season when factoring in the playoffs, where he owns a 2.60 ERA in 55 1/3 innings). If he’s back to full health and able to replicate his 2011-14 success, a $22MM contract would be a steal. Of course, if his 2016-17 seasons are more like his 2015 campaign, such a commitment would look unsightly in a hurry.