Why The Miami Marlins Need To Go After Doug Fister
With the calendar counting down towards the All-Star Break, an opportunity has arisen for the Marlins to make an impact roster move at minimal cost.
Doug Fister is a free-agent once again. And the Miami Marlins front office should be tripping over themselves reaching for the phone.
Well, let me back up. Fister is almost a free-agent. He’s projected to clear waivers in the next 36 hours, although it is always possible a contending team in need of pitching depth considers putting in a claim. The Houston Astros were paying him less than $2 million, a drop in the bucket for most organizations.
Even for the cash strapped Miami Marlins, the strongest argument not to make a claim now would likely be having to make a trade, not the price tag. But once he clears, he’s available for the veteran’s minimum.
And this is a guy that entered the 2016 offseason as perhaps the third most coveted starting pitcher on the market. A guy that has won double-digit games in four of the past five seasons. A guy that, according to club sources, the Marlins were considering making a run at prior to the season.
Definitely sounds worth exploring to me.
Why This Makes Sense For The Marlins
Fister is a spectacularly affordable, veteran arm that has shown a propensity for eating up innings. These are all things that check the boxes for a Miami Marlins rotation addition.
Furthermore, his decision to ask for his release shows a hunger to actually play, and not just collect a paycheck. Granted, there was a reason he wasn’t playing in Anaheim. His AAA numbers had him at just over 4.00 on the ERA front, and the Angels felt (correctly) they would get better results from their younger arms.
So it’s not like the reasonable expectation here is for him to bounce back to that Cy Young caliber form 2014. The 4.41 ERA Fister has averaged the past two seasons is what we’re talking about. A number that might have scared off the Angels, but not something that should necessarily frighten Miami.
Basically, signing Fister means the Miami Marlins get Tom Koehler back. At least, the production they projected for him.
Good Jeff Locke and Justin Nicolino days have tended to be five inning starts, with the four inning or less flameout occurring just as often. Even in 2016, Fister made it through at least 6.0 IP over 55% of the time. He keeps his club in the game, even when he doesn’t bring his best stuff. And every now and then, he’ll chip in that 7.0-8.0 IP gem. Just like Koehler did the past few seasons.
The 2016 comp is also valuable considering the current state of the Marlins offense. This six run per game pace the club has been scoring at for much of the past few weeks is starting to look sustainable. The 2016 Astros were also a high scoring bunch.
A starting pitcher that consistently gives up 4 ER across six innings probably has more value to this year’s Miami Marlins team than any team the franchise has fielded in the past five or six seasons.
At millions of dollars less, what’s not to like?
Why This Won’t Happen
Well, I never said free. The Miami Marlins would have to spend some money, and they are six games under .500 on the year.
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It’s worth noting that they are 12 games out of the Wild Card. At only ten games back, they actually have a better chance of catching Washington for the NL East crown. The ridiculous three-way race in the NL West has in many ways eliminated any drama in the National League besides who makes it out of the Central division.
And I’d be saying the same thing if the Marlins were currently a .500 team. The odds are long.
So unless the team loses a couple starting pitchers to injury this week, they are probably going to march on mediocrely with what they have on hand. Wei-Yin Chen is rehabbing, Adam Conley has been only slightly less inspiring for New Orleans, and Koehler is healthy.
Plus, Fister is going to be popular once he clears. Chances are someone with a better chance of playing October baseball is going to be willing to kick the tires on him. That’s probably all it would take for him to bypass the opportunity to play at Marlins Park.
What the Miami Marlins have going for them though is that the Anaheim Angels are only a game under .500, and sit just two games out of the second AL Wild Card spot. What’s more, the Angels have managed the task of closing the postseason gap without Mike Trout.
So if Fister’s main motivation was winning, he would have stuck around a little longer. Money will be no different anywhere, so same story there. This is about playing time, and proving he’s still worth paying a million dollars or more to in the future.
If he signs with the Marlins, he’ll be in the starting rotation. Worst case scenario, he’s in the pen, but definitely on the MLB roster the rest of the way. That would give Miami a significant edge here.
Next: Miami Marlins 7th round selection Sean Guenther, LHP
Provided they make an offer at all, which I don’t think they will. But should they?