Fister, who turns 34 in February, has had a rough past few seasons after having established himself with the Detroit Tigers as a solid mid-rotation starter. Fister was originally with the Seattle Mariners, who traded him to Detroit in July, 2011, in a deal that included, among others, Charlie Furbush going to Seattle, resulting in much merriment from those who like to make jokes about funny names. Fister spent two and a half seasons with the Tigers before being shipped to the Washington Nationals after the 2013 season for Robbie Ray, Ian Krol and Steve Lombardozzi. After a quality 2014 season, Fister struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness with the Nats in 2015, then went to Houston in 2016, signed with the Angels in 2017, and ended up getting claimed by the Red Sox from the Angels in mid-2017, ultimately spending a good chunk of time in the Boston rotation and starting an ALDS game.
Fister has been replacement level the past three seasons, more or less, though his peripherals improved with Boston last year, dropping his FIP to 3.98 despite a 4.88 ERA. If you’re looking for a silver lining, Fister had a 4.43 ERA over his final 11 starts of the year, which isn’t bad.
Fister isn’t the answer to the Rangers’ pitching woes, but for a team in need of three starting pitchers to fortify a rotation that currently has Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, and nothing else of note, he can at least fill a spot at the back of the rotation for what I suspect will be a relatively cheap one year deal, with the hope being that he can give you close to a major league average ERA and around 180 innings pitched.
This is reminiscent of the Rangers’ signing of Andrew Cashner last offseason — they grabbed Cashner early in free agency (he officially signed on November 21, 2016) coming off a couple of disappointing, injury-plagued seasons, and he rewarded them with a very nice 2017 campaign. I suspect it will be something similar to the 1 year, $10 million deal Cashner signed, allowing the team to check off one starting pitcher box while focusing their main efforts elsewhere.
UPDATE -- Chris Cotillo says the deal is one year, $4 million, with a team option for 2019 that could be for up to $7 million, and incentives in both 2018 and 2019. Much less than the $10 million Cashner got last year — at $4 million, Fister is a very cheap piece for the Rangers, making this appear to be a pretty nice signing. If he ends up not being any good, well, $4 million is about 2.5% of the Rangers’ total payroll for 2018, or a little less than 10% of what they are expected to have available to spend this offseason. And if he gives you even a half a season of decent performance, well, that is worth $4 million.
UPDATE -- Jeff Wilson tweets that the Rangers and Fister have a deal in place pending a physical.
UPDATE -- Cotillo has the full terms of the deal here, saying it is a 1 year, $3.5 million deal with a 2019 option at $4.5 million with a $500K buyout, plus escalators for the 2019 option and incentives that could make it worth $11.5 million total.