There’s no doubt the Rangers need starting pitching. On paper, there’s Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and several question marks afterwards.
However, the first step in possibly answering at least one of those question marks appears to have happened over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston is reporting that the Rangers have agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with righty Doug Fister, pending a physical. The deal would also include a team option for 2019. Rangers Nation may remember Fister from his days in the A.L. West with the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. Now it seems this time around Fister will be wearing the Rangers uniform when stepping onto the mound in Arlington.
The numbers from last season don’t look that impressive on the surface. Fister was 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA as both a starter and a reliever. He was last seen giving up three runs in 1.1 innings against the Astros in Game 3 of the ALDS. However, look beyond the surface and the signing of Fister may not be such a bad idea, despite the obvious desperation to fill out the starting rotation before spring training rolls around in February.
The velocity and strikeouts improved during Fister’s year in Beantown. The 33-year old had 83 strikeouts in 90.1 innings pitched, averaging 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. That average was 5.7 in 2016 with the Astros, plus 5.5 and 5.4 in his two seasons before that with the Washington Nationals.
Fister flourished under the Red Sox coaching staff after being claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. Now the question is whether that improvement can be maintained once he arrives in Arlington.
Even with the addition of Fister, there is still work to be done with the Rangers starting rotation. There are even names on the free agent market with Texas Connects Us ties such as Yu Darvish, Andrew Cashner and John Lackey. Other interesting options include Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Tyler Chatwood and C.C. Sabathia.
And then there’s the pursuit of outfielder/pitcher Shohei Ohtani. The Rangers are among the favorites to land the “Japanese Babe Ruth” once he’s eligible to be posted as a free agent by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, which can be as soon as Friday.
One thing is for sure, the signing of Fister could be the beginning of an interesting offseason for the Rangers.