The argument can be made that Doug Fister hasn’t been very good over the last two years. The argument could even be made that Fister was actually even worse in 2016, in what was supposed to be a bounce back year after an injury-riddled 2015 season. Despite the Astros’ hope that Fister would rebound, statistically he pitched the worst season of his whole career, finishing with a 4.64 ERA, a 4.75 FIP and a 4.89 xFIP. Beyond that, Fister struck out only 5.74 batters per nine innings while walking just over three per nine innings.
Although those numbers aren’t at all inspiring, Fister did have one thing on his side: consistency. Fister only threw 180 innings in 2016, but he did make 32 starts and maintained his health through most of the season. Add to that the fact that he made it through at least five innings in 24 of his starts, and into the fifth in five other starts, and Fister represents a strong model of replacement level value. Fister may represent the opposite of Derek Holland mentioned above, a player with a low ceiling but a decent floor, but that’s still valuable.
It’s clear the Padres aren’t going anywhere in 2017, so having a player like Fister would give the Padres an innings eater that is consistent above all else. Fister very likely won’t wow anybody, but even so, that has some value. Add to that a chance that Fister has a great year and becomes a decent trade chip, and the Padres should not hesitate to bring the veteran right-hander on board. At worst, he’ll pitch 150-200 decent innings in 2017. What else could you ask for?
Along the lines of Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson is another player who is looking to rebound after a poor stretch in recent years. One could realistically make the argument that Wilson has not been truly successful since 2013, a season in which he put up 3.2 fWAR for the Los Angeles Angels. In 2014, Wilson pitched a whole season, but finished with an ERA of 4.51, and an fWAR under 1.0. The 2015 season was an improvement for Wilson, with a 3.89 ERA and 1.5 fWAR, but injuries kept Wilson to only 21 starts on the year. 2016 was an even bigger step back for the veteran left-hander, as Wilson did not pitch a single Major League inning after undergoing elbow and shoulder surgeries during the season.
Going into 2017, it’s unclear what Wilson has left in the tank for 2017 and beyond. At 36 years old, Wilson is probably reaching the final years of his career. He’s racked up lots of wins and accolades, but also quite a few surgeries and scars as well. The left-hander appears healthy and seems intent on returning to the big leagues in 2017, and the Padres should give him that chance.
Wilson is another of the same breed of pitcher who should interest the Padres: low risk, high reward. Wilson obviously isn’t looking for any big time deal at this stage of his career. More likely, he is looking for a one year contract that will allow him to re-establish value in hopes of getting one last multi-year deal to end his career. There’s obviously the possibility that Wilson may want to play for a contender in 2017, but the Padres represent as good an option as any for bouncing back, especially given the plus of pitching home games at Petco Park. Add to that the fact that Wilson is from Southern California, and the fit makes a whole lot of sense for both sides.
While the first three pitchers on this list are all in similar situations, right-hander Jhoulys Chacin is a different case altogether. The trio of Holland, Fister, and Wilson are all veterans coming off injuries and/or poor performance; Chacin represents quite the opposite. Chacin may be coming off an up and down season, but he still has relative youth on his side at only 28 years old. With the Colorado Rockies from 2010-2013, Chacin actually posted ERAs under 4.00 on three separate occasions, a pretty significant feat for someone pitching his home games at Coors Field. Despite this success, Chacin struggled in his final two years in Colorado before signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015. After some success there, Chacin signed with the Atlanta Braves for 2016 before ending the season with the Los Angeles Angels after an early season trade.
In sum, Chacin was wildly inconsistent in 2016. While he accumulated an ERA over 5.00 in just over 100 innings as a starter, his ERA was a much more respectable 3.77 in 28 relief innings. The Padres should be looking at Chacin as a starter, but he could also be a useful bullpen option if he is willing to take on that responsibility full-time. Given the state of the Padres bullpen, which is just as much of a mess as the Padres rotation, that fit would also make a great deal of sense. With his age, Chacin is a low-risk signing with a very high potential reward.