Doug Fister Represents Best Value On The Free Agent Market This Winter
Major League Baseball Free Agency has been underway for weeks now and the action should start to heat up with the Winter Meetings taking place starting on Sunday in National Harbor located just outside of Washington D.C. While we have seen a few signings here and there, most of the action is yet to take place and there is one name I am keeping an eye on this winter. That name is Doug Fister the eight-year veteran starting pitcher on the free agent market.
Fister, the ground-ball specialist, finds himself on the free agent market once more after spending 2016 in Houston and posting a 12-13 record with a 4.64 ERA over 32 starts for the Astros. Now before you jump down my throat when I say Fister represents the best value and then you see his numbers from last season, let me explain my reasoning and logic behind why I would ink the right-hander to a deal this off-season.
Doug Fister had a career best season in 2014 after he was dealt from the Detroit Tigers to the Washington Nationals where he spent two seasons before signing with Houston last winter. In 2014, Fister went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA over 25 starts and 164 innings. Fister also ended his tenure in Detroit on a high-note in 2013 when he went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA over 208 1/3 innings pitched. This past season with Houston was more about Fister getting back in routine and making his turn every fifth day coming off elbow issues in 2015 which limited him to just 15 starts in his second season with the Nats.
There is a very high-ceiling for the veteran and we saw this over his first 14 starts with Houston where he logged 87 innings and was 8-3 with a 2.90 ERA before seemingly running out of steam down the stretch in route to finishing with a career-worst ERA. During Fister’s best season he really had his two-seam fastball working and it was biting to hitters from both sides of the plate. There was a particular sharpness to the pitch that was almost unhitable, and any contact with the pitch was almost always a ground ball out. Add to that his nasty breaking ball that could sometimes start out above the zone and wind up in the dirt at 74 mph and a tantalizing changeup, Fister had the arsenal of a Cy Young Award winner, which is why he finished 8th in voting that season for the Nationals.
In a market where each team is actively seeking starting pitching, Fister should be a high priority for any team looking for a top-three starter. Look at his former teammate from Detroit in Rick Porcello, the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner. Fister is older and doesn’t have quite the same pitching pedigree and arsenal as Porcello, but Fister represents the same bounce-back type of candidate on this market. If you put this pitcher in the right ballpark with an above average defense behind him, you could really reap the benefits.
Personally, in the right-situation Fister can channel the success he had from 2012-2014 and at the start of last season and possess the value to be a second or third starter. If I were an executive looking to add a starter this winter, I would have zero issue committing a four-year deal worth upwards of $50 million to Doug Fister. When you factor in his upside, the ability to log innings for your staff, the veteran presence he will have in the room with younger pitchers and his success in the postseason over his career, this is a no-brainer decision.
Doug Fister represents the best value on the free agent market this winter, and whatever team makes the decision to sign him to their rotation will be much better off in 2o17 and beyond. This is the type of pitcher that can be the cornerstone of a rotation both with his ability on the mound and in the room.
If you’re at the Winter Meetings next week please feel free to say hello as I will be in attendance as well. Follow me on Twitter @FrankBostonTank and reach out. Look forward to chatting with everyone there including teams and front office executives.