The Astros have non-tendered righty Mike Fiers, per a team announcement. The team has tendered contracts to all other eligible players, while Fiers will head to the open market.
This move was widely expected, though there seemed to be some possibility that the team would instead find another organization interested in Fiers via trade. Fiers was projected by MLBTR and Matt Swartz to earn $5.7MM in his second (and second-to-last) season of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 32, has had some dazzling high points — including a 2015 no-hitter — but has been increasingly prone to the long ball over the past three seasons. He surrendered 1.88 home runs per nine in 2017 while also posting a career-high 3.6 BB/9 walk rate. Perhaps it isn’t surprising, then, that he ended the year with an ugly 5.22 ERA over 153 1/3 innings.
While Fiers had a nice stretch of good outings in the middle of the year, briefly losing his rotation spot before being pushed back in due to injuries, he finished poorly and did not earn a chance to play in the Astros’ successful run through the postseason. Of course, in other ways Fiers was much the same pitcher as ever. He posted typical velocity and swinging-strike (9.1%) numbers along with a 42.9% groundball rate that sits above his personal average.
It still seems likely that there’ll be fairly robust interest in Fiers in free agency. Even if expectations aren’t all that high, he has turned in 88 starts over the past three seasons and seems a reasonable bet to help stabilize the back of a rotation.