The Mets “have looked at” right-hander Doug Fister, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports in his latest NL notes roundup, but Fister is still holding out for a Major League contract, he adds. Even if he received the guaranteed deal he’s seeking, Fister would almost assuredly have to report to the minors for a tune-up after not pitching at all during Spring Training.
The Mets have seen both Steven Matz (flexor strain) and Seth Lugo (partial UCL tear) go down with injuries, thus thinning out their pitching depth. Their rotation still carries plenty of firepower, as Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman and Zack Wheeler all appear healthy. Theoretically, Fister could eventually step into Wheeler’s slot, as the Mets want to limit Wheeler’s innings in 2017 after he missed each of the past two seasons due to injury. Then again, one of Matz or Lugo could claim that spot if they’re able to return to health in the relatively near future.
The 33-year-old Fister logged a lackluster 4.64 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 45.3 percent ground-ball rate with the Astros last season. He’s seen his velocity dip from the 89-90 mph range to the 86-87 mph range in recent seasons, though he certainly remains a durable arm, as evidenced by the 32 starts he made last season (180 1/3 innings pitched). And given the level of talent at the top end of the New York rotation, the Mets may not need much more than someone that can reliably take the ball every fifth day.
Signing Fister to a Major League deal, though, would require the Mets to open a 40-man roster spot right now despite the fact that Fister wouldn’t be ready to step onto a big league mound for awhile. That could be accomplished by transferring one of their injured players to the 60-day DL — David Wright, Matz or Lugo are all on the 10-day DL at present — but the team may not want to close off the possibility of any of those names returning sooner than that.
Even if nothing comes to fruition between the Mets and the veteran right-hander, it seems that New York is keeping an eye out for rotation depth. Heyman notes that they also looked at former Met Mike Pelfrey following his release from the Tigers, though Pelfrey elected to ink a minor league deal with the White Sox, where he has an easier path to the big league roster. And Newsday’s Marc Carig tweeted at the time of the Lugo injury that the Mets would likely be looking for arms that they could stash in the minors.