The San Diego Padres quest for starting pitching has entered its final stages in preparation for the 2017 season.
In recent days, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports News indicated that the Padres are still “kicking the tires” on some veteran pitchers for the 2017 rotation, and among the potential players of interest is veteran right-handed hurler, Doug Fister.
Fister is coming off a season, in Houston, where he started 32 games for the Astros in the American League. He was 12-13 with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.425 WHIP while managing to throw 180 innings. He was knocked around pretty hard at times, and walked 62 batters on the season. His year was easily considered less than stellar as far as production is concerned.
The California native had arm issues in 2015, so the fact he was able to complete the whole season last year was a positive thing for the soon to be 33-year-old. Fister made $7 million dollars in 2016 after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Astros after two seasons in Washington. As a National in 2014, he went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA in 25 games and 164 innings pitched. The ability is there, it is just about staying healthy at this point.
A.J. Preller is all about maximizing players’ value, so the right-hander could be an excellent buy-low candidate for the team. Doug Fister has the ability to get major league hitters out, but is he a good fit for the Padres and their 2017 team?
The Padres rotation currently consists of Luis Perdomo, Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, Christian Friedrich, Jarred Cosart, Paul Clemens, Cesar Vargas, and Tyrell Jenkins. They will all have to battle for a spot on the team, and the competition could be exciting. From this battle the Friars could emerge with a productive group. Fister would surely be an upgrade over some of these pitchers, but how much of an upgrade? Then there are the real concerns about his health. At his age, can you expect him to rebound after a poor 2016?
Doug Fister has had arm and back problems in recent years and has only thrown over 200 innings twice (2011 and 2013) in his career. He is no sure bet to be healthy the entire year, and for the Padres to pay him potentially $3-4 million dollars would be risky. The team would look at him as a potential player to flip at the deadline. In a perfect Padres’ world, Fister would have a great first few months of the season and the team could deal him for more prospects come July. That would be the ideal situation that Padres’ fans can hope for.
That could happen, but Fister is also very capable of falling on his face or becoming injured and having no value at all. Take a look at his career numbers and you will see that he has been an impressive pitcher at times in his eight year career. During that span, however, he has missed time due to injury. There is risk.
The Padres’ scouting of Fister is vital in determining if he is capable of bouncing back. The team doesn’t need a full season of production from the right-hander, just a solid few months to boost his value. That is the game the Padres will play for the next season or so, and then they will go from there in their attempt at a world title. Maximize players worth and exchange the player for younger prospects that are more on par to when the team will truly succeed. That is the master plan at the moment.
If the team can get Fister on a one-year deal that is incentive filled, then that would be the best for the club. However, convincing the veteran to sign with the team is another story. He surely knows that the Padres have no long-term interest in him. He would only be a rental and their intentions in signing him would be to flip him for younger players when the time is right. That is a tough sell for a player who is looking for long-term stability.
At this point, Fister will not be getting a multi-year offer from anyone. His best chance to get a multiple year contract is by having a great 2017 season and hitting the open market with two seasons in which he started over 30 games. The motivation is there for Fister, because if he fails to succeed, his chances of a big payday will diminish greatly. Pitchers in their mid 30s generally do not get multi-year deals from anyone. The time is now for him to bear down and pitch consistently.
So if the value is low enough, expect the Padres to be real players in signing Fister. He would have to concede to the fact that he would only be spending part of the year in San Diego, but playing at Petco Park could boost his value enough for him to cash in on the open market after the season. The Padres need starters and Fister can be quite good when he is on. If the price is right, I say the Padres sign Fister and hope for the best. He could turn into the teams ace by June and fetch a couple of decent players come July. Stockpiling prospects will only help this Padres team come out of obscurity. Thinking like this and manipulating the system in your favor is the way a small market team competes in this modern era of the game. The Padres way will pay off in the long run. Fister could be an attractive piece if he is throwing well. Do your thing, A.J. Do your thing.