As the Mariners look to bolster their rotation, free agent righty Doug Fister is a “name of interest” to the organization, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Already a plausible pursuer of starting pitching, the M’s now appear clearly in need of another arm after dealing Taijuan Walker.
Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto has acknowledged that the club would look to add to the rotation, explaining that he’s hopeful of finding “major-league established starting pitching.” The team has a variety of depth pieces, and added a few more yesterday, but could certainly stand to add to the back of the rotation alongside options such as Ariel Miranda and Nate Karns. “The idea now is to plug in someone who gets a little closer to the middle of the rotation than the back,” said Dipoto.
Whether Fister would really meet that need is somewhat in question after his one-year stint with the Astros. He started well, but faltered over the second half and ended with a career-worst 4.64 ERA over 180 1/3 innings, with 5.7 K/9 and a personal-high 3.1 BB/9. Typically a strong groundball pitcher, Fister has also hovered in the 45% range in groundball induction over the past two years, which is right at league average.
Certainly, the Mariners do not appear to be locked in on Fister. Per the report, the club has its eye on other possibilities — including via trade — and may not see the veteran as their “top preference.” Dipoto has also made clear that he’s in no rush to fill the need, perhaps reflecting an interest in finding value rather than targeting a specific player.
Fister, now 32, began his career in Seattle. He was dealt to the Tigers in an ill-fated swap from the Mariners’ perspective, and was later shipped on to the Nationals. While he is now two years removed from his high-quality 2014 campaign in D.C., Fister was at least able to return to full health in 2016 after struggling with elbow issues in his final year with the Nats.