After two disappointing seasons with the Houston Astros, Doug Fister is heading into a free agency in which he’ll have someone pick him up, but maybe for the last time if he doesn’t turn around his sliding performance. The Miami Marlins have shown minor interest in him, as did the Seattle Mariners, where he began his career.
Fister has a 4.48 ERA over the last two seasons with the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. After a terrific stretch from 2011 through 2014, Fister’s accuracy and velocity fell. He was never too powerful of a thrower, but from the low 90’s he’s down to just above the mid 80’s, and struck out only 1.85 batters per one walk last season, by far the lowest numbers of his career. But both the Marlins and Mariners hope that the soon-to-be 33-year old can recapture some of his 2011-2014 ability, when he posted a 3.11 ERA and struck out 3.8 batters per 1 walk.
The Mariners might be still haunted by the trade that backfired on them. Fister was fantastic on the Detroit Tigers and for one season in Washington before his unexpected decline began, and maybe Seattle feel they can get some closure by bringing him back, although at this point, it’s hard to see him taking a too-important piece in any rotation. The same can be said for the Marlins, who are looking at other options for the back end of their rotation, even considering giving David Phelps a bump from the bullpen to the starting pitching crew.
Fister took a $4.4 million pay cut last season to sign with the Astros. He’ll probably have to see a low-balled contract once again and accept it considering the current trajectory of his career. Perhaps a two-season, $12 million deal, and work in some player option into the second season that could give him a raise, or simply make it an incentive-filled contract? Fister will find a team on a regular, major league deal, but this may be his last one if he doesn’t make some drastic change to his performance, or simply become a bullpen pitcher, which is always an option for starters who can’t cut it anymore.