10:11am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Mets are not signing Fister. He characterizes the Angels as one of multiple “serious considerations” for Fister.
9:48am: Free-agent right-hander Doug Fister is close to signing with a yet-unreported team, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (Twitter link). Though Fister has had interest from both the AL and NL, he’s likely to land with a National League club, per Heyman. In a second tweet, Heyman notes that the D-backs are “in the mix” on Fister, adding that he hasn’t heard much tying him to the Mets as of late. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that the Mets, D-backs, Giants, Angels and Blue Jays have all been in the mix to varying extents.
From the listed teams, the Mets jump out as the club in most dire need of rotation reinforcements, as New York has lost Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo to injuries already, while right-handers Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman and Zack Wheeler have all struggled thus far in 2017. The Mets are hopeful that Matz and Lugo will be able to return in late May or early June, though there’s no guarantee that either comes back at full strength just yet. And Wheeler, of course, is on an innings limit in 2017 after missing the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons due to Tommy John surgery.
The D-backs, of course, have had their own brush with injuries, having lost right-hander Shelby Miller for the season due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament that necessitated Tommy John surgery. Arizona, though, seemingly has better depth at the upper levels of its farm, with Braden Shipley, Anthony Banda and Zack Godley among the potential rotation options currently in Triple-A (to say nothing of right-hander Archie Bradley, who is currently in the Major League bullpen but could likely start if deemed necessary).
As for the Giants, they lost Madison Bumgarner for what will likely be most of the first half of the season, if not more, due to a controversial dirtbike accident that resulted in a shoulder injury. None of the Giants’ other starters — Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore, Matt Cain or Ty Blach — has mustered an ERA south of 4.50 on the season. The Giants also traded one of their upper-level depth options, Clayton Blackburn, to the Rangers earlier this year. However, with Tyler Beede and Chris Stratton both in Triple-A, the Giants do possess some upper-level options should they decide to shuffle the rotation.
The Angels and Blue Jays, of course, both have plenty of cause to seek rotation help as well. However, Heyman seems to suggest that an AL club isn’t as likely, and that’s a logical line of thinking for Fister, who could likely post better numbers in the National League.
It should be noted that Fister is hardly a quick fix for any team’s rotation; the right-hander will almost certainly need a fair amount of time to ramp up before he’s ready to join a Major League rotation. And while he comes with plenty of name value, Fister’s fastball has been in the 86-87 mph range in recent seasons. Unsurprisingly, there’s been a corresponding dip in his effectiveness. Last year he proved a durable rotation piece for the Astros (32 starts) but logged just a 4.64 ERA with 5.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in 180 1/3 innings.