Signing free agent starter Doug Fister wouldn’t necessarily fix what ails the 2017 New York Mets, but it might help.
Doug Fister is about to once again become a free agent, as Wednesday afternoon saw the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim request unconditional release waivers on the starting pitcher.
Today the Angels requested unconditional release waivers on RHP Doug Fister for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release.
— Angels (@Angels) June 21, 2017
That wasn’t the only news to break on hump day. The Mets announced that Zack Wheeler would be joining fellow starters Noah Syndergaard (lat) and Matt Harvey (shoulder) on the disabled list with a case of biceps tendinitis.
We have made the following roster moves. pic.twitter.com/lYuhLq5U42
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 21, 2017
Of the six legitimate starting pitchers the Mets had planned on leaning on in 2017, three are now sidelined by injury. Jacob deGrom, Robert Gsellman and Steven Matz are the only ones left standing. That’s a problem.
And no, wrapping that trio in Bubble Wrap when they’re not toeing the rubber isn’t a terrible idea. But seeing as how the players union isn’t likely to sign off on such extreme protective measures, it’s time for the Mets to look elsewhere for reinforcements.
Enter Fister, a pitcher the team had given thought to signing back in April, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
Now 33 years old, he’s no longer the same pitcher who finished eighth in the 2014 National League Cy Young Award voting while a member of the Washington Nationals. That pitcher, the one who went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, is gone.
It’s also true that he wasn’t overly impressive in three Triple-A starts for the Angels this season. Over 15.2 innings of work, he allowed seven earned runs and 16 hits, walking five and striking out 10. That comes out to a 4.02 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.
But—and yes, there’s always a but—is he really any worse than the internal options the Mets have to fill the void in their rotation?
Fister is a pitcher who, at the very least, can give his team a chance to win every time he takes the ball. Case in point: Despite pitching to 4.94 ERA and 1.43 WHIP for Houston last season, he still won 12 games, finishing the year with a 12-13 record.
Now you might be sitting there saying “That’s great and all, but I’m still not convinced he can help. What about trading for another starter?”
Glad you asked.
So far, the trade market for starting pitchers has yet to materialize. We can speculate, of course, as to who might be available, and that list starts with Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox.
Would Quintana be a preferable addition to Fister? You bet he would.
But there’s a better chance of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry publicly reconciling before a packed house at Citi Field than there is of the Mets meeting Chicago’s asking price for the 28-year-old southpaw.
Other potential trade targets include a pair of former Mets, Atlanta’s Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, as well as Jaime Garcia, who currently joins that duo as part of the Braves rotation.
Make no mistake about it: While Atlanta would likely trade within the division, the Braves aren’t going to do any favors for a division rival. Giving up prospects, even midlevel ones, for one of those mediocre arms is simply too hefty a price for the Mets to pay.
Signing Fister, who isn’t going to command a hefty salary, is the team’s best bet at bolstering the rotation from the outside.
Maybe he comes in and solidifies the back of the rotation. Maybe he comes in and gets shelled, forcing the team to once again look elsewhere. There are no guarantees with Fister.
That said, taking a flier on the eight-year veteran is the right move for the Mets to make. At this point, they’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.