The first official big-league signing has been announced as the Texas Rangers have are bringing in right-handed pitcher Doug Fister on a major league contract, according to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. The deal is pending a physical, and the terms are not yet known, however there is no doubt that he will be guaranteed a rotation spot, as the Rangers lack certainty behind Cole Hamels and Martin Perez.
Fister spent the 2017 season with the Boston Red Sox, joining the team as a June waiver claim. Over 15 starts and three games finished, Fister ate up 90.1 innings while posting a 4.88 ERA. While it may seem rather lackluster, his peripherals suggest that he was the victim of some bad fortune as he posted a very strong 3.98 FIP with just 63.3 percent of runners remaining on base (average is about 72 percent).
Perhaps the most encouraging sign from Fister was a much-needed increase in velocity. While Fister had hovered around the upper 80s and low 90s through the first part of his career, he saw his velocity fall well below his previous averages from 2014 through 2016. This year, however, he was back up to an average fastball velocity of 89.7, which was his highest since 2013 in which he averaged 89.8. Furthermore, Fister struck out more batters than he ever had, posting a K/9 of 8.27.
While the terms are not yet known, it doesn’t figure to be a groundbreaking figure. Nevertheless, this has the potential to be an outstanding move for the Rangers who would have otherwise had to entrust three of the five rotation spots to a combination of top-prospect Yohander Mendez (who, while solid, shouldn’t be rushed), Nick Martinez, AJ Griffin, Matt Bush (who should be left in relief), Clayton Blackburn and Ronald Herrera. The Rangers will not have to make a 40-man roster move, as this brings them up to 38.