Over the past few seasons, the Washington Nationals have had a small problem in their rotation when it came to the back end of it. GM Mike Rizzo tried his hand at signing veteran, innings-eating pitchers to fill the fourth spot in the rotation, and neither deal worked out for Washington, though the pitchers they signed — Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson — landed on their feet with new deals with Jackson getting a four-year pact. The Nationals tried something a little different this winter as they went out and acquired Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers for a package that basically insulted Fister’s value as a pitcher.
Fister was acquired from the Seattle Mariners by Detroit in a deal for prospects back in 2010. At the time of the deal, Fister was in the midst of a 3-12 record, though his ERA was 3.33, and upon arriving in Detroit he went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA. Fister also proved his mettle in the postseason, posting a 2.98 ERA in the playoffs. Fister is also still arbitration eligible, but since the Tigers need to focus on potential extensions for Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera, Fister was going to be gone and teams like to get value in those situations.
Fister and the Nationals recently settled arbitration, and Fister is due to make $7.2 million in 2014. But could the Nationals use these next two seasons they have control of Fister to perhaps see if they could extend him at an affordable contract?
It’s not a completely crazy idea as Fister will hit the open market at 31, and teams tend to avoid pitchers who hit free agency in their 30s. They are going to need to dole out new contracts to Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Bryce Harper, and those three will demand a pretty penny. So, when it comes to other key players — and Fister has the potential to be exactly that — lower priced extensions will be a necessity. Plus, Fister is a sinkerball pitcher, and they tend to age pretty well since sinkers don’t need to be thrown hard and can even get better with age. Fister has and never will overpower hitters which is exactly why extending him makes sense.
Fister will definitely be around for the next two seasons for the Nationals; that much is true. However, it would not be entirely surprising if Washington gives Fister a long-term deal, and it could come relatively cheap.