Texas Rangers: Doug Fister Signing Not Huge, But Makes Sense
The MLB offseason has gotten off to a slow start. With the World Series well in the rearview mirror, fans have been patiently waiting for the hot stove to heat up. The handing out of the awards is complete. So now it’s time for free agents and trade talks to be the talk of the town. Well, the first domino has finally fallen, courtesy of the Texas Rangers and Doug Fister.
Fister and the Rangers came to an agreement on a one-year pact, the includes an option as well as plenty of incentives. Fister has officially locked down $4 million for the coming season, with the potential to make plenty more depending on his performance.
Now, this is a move that is not going to change the landscape of baseball. The soon to be 34-year-old is not likely to magically turn into a Cy Young candidate. However, it is a move that certainly helps stabilize the Texas rotation. In other words, it’s a move that made sense logically.
Last Winter, Fister did not get a deal until May, when the Los Angeles Angels signed him to a minor league deal. He would end up opting out a month later. It did not take long for Fister to land with the AL East champion Boston Red Sox. In Boston, Fister showed some signs of life in his 18 appearances.
For starters, his strikeout rate climbed to a career high. Usually, a pitcher who would strike out about five to six batters per nine innings, the veteran struck out 8.27 batters per nine innings (83 K’s in just over 90 innings). While he was not blowing people away with his fastball, it was certainly a positive to see his average fastball velocity jump nearly two mph, where he topped out in the low 90’s. All of this helped lead to one of his best swinging strike rates.
So with signs of life, Texas decided to roll the dice on an incentive-laden deal. While most will see a soft-tossing lefty entering a hitter’s ballpark, it needs to be noted Fister is a ground ball pitcher. Over half the balls in play against Fister were on the ground. That will certainly help in that ballpark in Arlington that sees its fair share of longballs.
The starting rotation was a clear weak spot for the Texas Rangers entering the Winter. They dealt away long-time ace Yu Darvish last season. Andrew Cashner is on the open market. Cole Hamels is coming off an injury-plagued season. Martin Perez does not exactly instill confidence in the fan base. So before this signing, it is very possible A.J. Griffin could have been the team’s number three starter.
The addition of Fister means the team adds a polished vet. He comes with experience and will be a good mentor for some of the young arms. Hamels will remain the team’s ace, but Fister could very well become their number two as of this moment. The team is better served with him as their three or four if they wish to contend. However, he certainly represents an upgrade over the other names they have on the roster.
The Rangers will almost certainly add another arm, or two. Many are linking them to Jake Arrieta, Shohei Ohtani, and Yu Darvish. Adding one of those guys, or even a Lance Lynn/Alex Cobb type would allow Fister to slot in as the three.
Fister fits this club. So as long as the team can add at least one more capable arm, he will be right at home in the middle of the rotation. His ground ball style makes this deal a very logic one. One that helps Texas take a small step forward. It won’t win them the AL West, but it helps set the foundation for them to take that next step.
What do you think? Does the deal make sense for the Texas Rangers? What about for Fister? Tell us what you think in the comments!