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Roster review: Doug Fister

Oct 25, 2015, 6:00 AM EST

USA Today Sports Images

Age on Opening Day 2016: 32

How acquired: Trade with Tigers, Dec. 2013

MLB service time: 6 years, 58 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $11.4 million

Contract status: Free agent

2015 stats: 25 G, 15 GS, 103 IP, 120 H, 56 R, 48 ER, 14 HR, 24 BB, 63 K, 1.40 WHIP, 5-7, 4.19 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 0.2 WAR

Quotable: “For me, once I’m on the mound, I’m on the mound. It doesn’t matter if I’m starting a game or relieving in a game, it doesn’t matter. Once the ball is in your hand, it’s time for business,” Fister on moving to the bullpen for the first time in his career.

2015 analysis: Doug Fister, much like his teammates Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond, did not have the season he hoped for in the final year of his contract. Fister, in fact, had the worst season of his career and it ended up costing him his job in the Nationals’ rotation.

It was a remarkable turn of events for the right-hander, who was arguably the team’s best pitcher the year before. Fister saw his ERA go up from 2.41 in 2014 all the way to 4.19. He gave up 56 runs in 103 innings in 2015 after allowing 52 total through 164 innings the year before.

The Nationals’ rotation did not live up to expectations this season and perhaps nobody exemplified that more than Fister. He was their rock in his first season in D.C., a model of consistency. Only four times in 25 starts in 2014 did he allow four earned runs or more. He did that eight times in 2015.

By August, Fister was replaced in the rotation by rookie Joe Ross and banished to the Nats’ bullpen. Now he enters a crucial offseason with his value significantly diminished.

2016 outlook: Before the 2015 season, it looked like a foregone conclusion that the Nats would extend a qualifying offer to Fister this winter and in turn receive a compensation pick when he signed elsewhere. At this point, though, it looks very unlikely that they will make that offer, as Fister could very well take it given the off-year that he had.

If Fister had hit free agency last offseason, he would have been in line for a lucrative multi-year contract. Now, however, he may be smart to take a one-year, prove-it deal and try to reset for next offseason with the hope of cashing in on a big contract.

Like Zimmermann, Fister enters a free agent class stocked full of quality starting pitchers. He may be on the outside looking in of the top 10 starters available. That should not bode well for Fister, who some teams may see as a bargain once they peer past the big names like Zack Greinke, David Price and Johnny Cueto.

  1. alexva6 - Oct 25, 2015 at 7:24 AM

    no mention of his arm troubles. I attribute his decreased velocity and ineffectiveness to not being healthy.

  2. npb99 - Oct 25, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    I wouldn´t be surprised if the Nats do sign him to a one-year deal. It helps us by bridging the gap to the young pitchers, and it helps him by giving him a do-over before seeking a long-term contract.

  3. rabbit433 - Oct 25, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    Not bad!!!!!!! Worst year of his career, bumped out of the starting rotation, and earned $11,400,000.00. Now, that’s what I call entitlement!

    • DaveB - Oct 25, 2015 at 9:06 AM

      Not sure how you define entitlement. In baseball, like all sports, he gets paid this year based on what he earned over his previous years. If you mean that he was “entitled” to that salary because it was in his contract you’re obviously correct, but to me the word “entitlement” usually implies something that someone didn’t have to work for, and that certainly doesn’t bring Fister to mind.

    • infideljack - Oct 25, 2015 at 10:09 AM

      Based on his history, a bargain. History is the only way to measure a players value short of a crystal ball.

  4. Susanfaulkner - Oct 25, 2015 at 2:05 PM

    Fister is the man. He had a off year. So has Verlander Corey Kluber didn’t look like an mvp this year. It happens. I think they should give him another chance. He had an awesome attitude when he was demoted.Not whinning like somebody else on the team we know when they were demoted. His velocity is down but it doesn’t mean that he still can’t pitch. When these young guys come in like Degrom, Garrett Richards throwing 98 they set the bar now and its expected of everyone. Who else are they going to get when we need starters and some new faces in the bullpen. He’s a team player.

    • senators5 - Oct 25, 2015 at 7:26 PM

      I agree completely with you, especially with Fister being a team player which the Nats desperately need next year. If the price is reasonable the Nats should resign him for next year and then see how he does for a longer stint.

  5. Section 222 - Oct 25, 2015 at 8:53 PM

    Fister had a great attitude, he’s a great teammate and a hard worker. But he was not a good pitcher this year, and, unfortunately for him, you get paid for performance not for being a good guy. I doubt the Nats bring him back. He’s going to cost too much to take a chance.

    • Susanfaulkner - Oct 25, 2015 at 9:07 PM

      Nobody knows what Fister is asking for yet. I know you don’t get paid for being a good guy. If that was the case Tim Tebow would have a job in the NFL. Pitchers have off years he deserves another chance.

      • Section 222 - Oct 26, 2015 at 10:53 AM

        He made $11.4 million last year. Someone will pay him that much or more. Maybe someone will give him a 2-year deal. Do you think the Nats should? I don’t. If he’s willing to go back to his 2014 salary of “just” $7.2 million as a thank you to the Nats for paying him $11 million for being really bad in 2015, I’d certainly consider that.

        The problem is that we know he can’t be relied on to get back to his 2014 form, or even his 2012 or 2013 form. We’d be taking a chance and I think we’d be better off spending that money for a more certain return, even if the upside isn’t as great.

  6. langleyclub - Oct 25, 2015 at 9:36 PM

    Fister is not coming back… The Nats have other more pressing needs (bullpen; left-handed bats)… Nats can get Fister results from far less expensive options. Roster turnover can be a good thing.

    • Susanfaulkner - Oct 25, 2015 at 9:39 PM

      The only article that I have read this off season is they he felt he could still be a starter for someone. I didn’t read anything about a asking price. Has anyone seen anything other wise?

    • unkyd59 - Oct 25, 2015 at 10:49 PM

      I could see it. Doug will be lost in the shadow of a dozen other FA talent, if he’s available at a reasonable price, they could give him another year… He’ll probably be around after the dust settles, close to P&C… We’ll see…

  7. nats788 - Oct 26, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    More in depth analysis here:

    http://navyyardnotes.blogspot.com/2015/10/2015-season-review-doug-fister.html

    down year for sure, but not unexpected. weak FA class for pitchers this offseason though

    • tcostant - Oct 26, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      What, “weak FA class for pitchers”?

      When was the last time a FA class was lead by so many great pitchers. The SP class is lead be Greinke, Price, Cueto and Zimmermann. In pass years, these guys would have been locked up, but agents are learning…

      http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-top-mlb-free-agents-20151022-story.html

      • nats788 - Oct 26, 2015 at 4:23 PM

        it’s a pretty steep drop off after those 4. the next tier starts with Scott Kazmir maybe?

        last year had Scherzer, Lester, Shields, Liriano leading the pack. Shields obviously fell off, but those 4 were exptected to be #1 starters. not sure you can say the same about Zimmermann or Cueto anymore

  8. edbrinkman - Oct 28, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    Color Fister gone. He won’t be a Nat in 2016.

    • Susanfaulkner - Oct 28, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      Reality hurts. He was the reason I started watching the Nats. I love the Nats now!!!! Great group of guys.

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