Padres News: Free Agent Target- Doug Fister

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Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

After the San Diego Padres pitching staff had a stellar 2014 season, the entire group took a huge step back in 2015. While the Padres did lose right hander Jesse Hahn and a few others, they also added both James Shields and Brandon Morrow.

The issue was that neither of those two worked out for the Padres and the rest of the staff took a step back from the great 2015 season. Going into this offseason, it’s pretty clear that the Padres have lots of need throughout the roster, with starting pitching being a big one. There are plenty of big name pitchers on the market, from David Price to Zack Greinke to Johnny Cueto and so on, but the Padres likely do not have the spending power or financial will to make that kind of move.

With the top and mid-tier pitchers likely out of the picture for the Padres this offseason, A.J. Preller and company must get creative if they hope to improve a pitching staff that struggled mightily in 2015.

Enter Doug Fister. Fister is just the type of pitcher the Padres could go after this offseason. The Padres have a history of going after cheaper options with question marks, see the singings of Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson the last two years. After a mediocre 2015 season, Fister pitched himself out of both a qualifying offer and a potentially big contract, and now finds himself on the free agent market free of the draft pick compensation and free of the expectation of a massive contract.

In his second season with the Nationals, Doug Fister had a truly forgettable season, perhaps the worst of his career. Fister started only 15 games for the Nationals, due to both injuries and poor performance, and finished the season with an ERA and FIP both over 4.00. Both numbers were also the highest for Fister since his struggles in Seattle in 2009/2010.

Fister found a bit of a resurgence in Detroit, with 3.4 and 4.2 WAR seasons in 2012 and 2013. Fister followed his strong performance with the Tigers with only his second sub-three ERA of his career with a 2.41 ERA in 2014 in his first season with the Washington Nationals. Fister struggled to stay healthy in his second season with the Nationals and was unable to return to his previous form.

According to Fangraphs Steamer projections for 2016, Fister is projected to pitch 163 innings over 28 starts with an ERA and FIP both just over 4.00 with a WAR of 1.4. While these numbers don’t really jump out at anybody, Fister has the potential to exceed those numbers if he can maintain his health going forward. Another important factor for Fister will be going from a hitter friendly park in Washington to a pitcher friendly park in San Diego. This should help him bounce back from a truly forgettable 2015 season.

While the Padres have a clear need in the middle of their rotation, the money may just not be there for the team to make an expensive upgrade this offseason. Fister represents a cheaper bounce back candidate, who could do much better in a new setting in 2016. Fister will not command the same kind of long term expensive contract like the other players on the market. The Padres could even get him on a one or two year deal for somewhere between $10 or $20 million. With money a little tight in San Diego, A.J. Preller must get creative this offseason.

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