“I’ve seen how big a nuisance they can be on the other side of the ball.”
“I wanted to be a part of it.”
Well, at least we know that Doug Fister knows all the right things to say on his first day as a Texas Ranger.
The news broke on Sunday that Texas had signed the 33-year-old right-handed starter to a Major League contract. Fister, who will be 34 before Spring Training starts, will reportedly receive a base salary of $3.5 million, according to Chris Cotillo with SBNation.com, and with a team option for 2019, the contract could max out at $11.5 million over two seasons “if all escalators and incentives are met.”
“It’s like coming into a new school and making new friends,” Fister said about joining his sixth organization in as many years. “(I’m going to) try to get a handle on all the guys in the clubhouse; that’s my first and foremost priority. Being a teammate of the other 24 guys, that’s the most important. Baseball will take care of itself.”
That’s the hope, anyway. Fister’s last really good season was his first season in Washington (2014) when he went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA and finished 8th in Cy Young voting. Since then, he has gone a combined 22-29 in 75 games (62 starts) with a 4.58 ERA and 261 strikeouts to 124 walks in 373⅔ innings with Washington, Houston, and Boston.
But Fister’s 2017 season in Boston has been called a “resurgence” by more than one writer, and according to Drellich’s article, saw “revised mechanics and improved velocity” from the veteran right-hander.
Fister himself gave a bit of a self-scouting report in a conference call on Tuesday. “I really feel like I’ve reverted back to some of my old ways of pitching philosophy and physical mechanics,” the veteran righty assessed. “(It was just) getting back to cross firing a little bit and getting that sinker back.”
Pressed for details, Fister talked a little shop: “The biggest thing for me: moving to the first-base side (of the pitching rubber) allowed my body to work less, in the sense of how much stress it took me to get back to the first-base side; the left-handed batter’s box. I was stepping right to the plate, which was taking away from my ability to throw to my glove side. (The shift) allows me to use that front side and have something to throw against.”
It was no secret that the Rangers were going to prioritize starting pitching this off-season. After all, when you look at a list of everyone who made a start for the Rangers in 2017, it quickly starts to resemble a three-year-old high school yearbook: Yu Darvish was traded to the Dodgers, and now he and Andrew Cashner are both free agents, along with Miguel Gonzalez, Tyson Ross, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, and Dillon Gee, who spend most of 2017 as a Minnesota Twin anyway.
That leaves Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Nick Martinez, A.J. Griffin, and one start from Alex Claudio before you start getting to the Yohander Mendez and “yeah they might make Matt Bush a starter” portion of the conversation.
It’s not the blockbuster trade or the giant-font headline signing that Texas still might pull off this offseason, but at the price, it’s a low-risk, low-floor signing that makes a lot of sense for the Rangers, and gives them some breathing room as they head into the Winter Meetings looking to round out the new-look 2018 rotation.