The New York Yankees are still searching for starting pitching but are not interested in free agent pitcher Doug Fister, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network.
Fister, 31, is reportedly seeking a two-year commitment that will pay him $10-$11 million in each season. Recent Yankees history shows that the team would rather upgrade the team via trade -- such as the acquisitions of Aroldis Chapman and Starlin Castro -- so they're unlikely to give a lofty guarantee to a pitcher coming off a down season.
In 25 appearances (15 starts) in 2015, Fister pitched to a 5-7 record with a 4.19 ERA through 103 innings pitched. Fister's struggled earned him a demotion from the starting rotation to the bullpen in early August last year, via CBS Sports. At the time of the demotion, the 6'8, California native had allowed 20 earned runs in his last 34 innings pitched. As a result, Fister saw his ERA rise from 2.87 in mid-May to 4.60 by early-August.
“It’s not something you want to do, but I’m here to help the team win,” Fister told the Washington Post after the demotion. “It’s what it comes down to, bottom line. I need to do what I need to do to go out there and pitch and go out there and execute and be better on the mound.”
In the four years that preceded 2015, Fister emerged as one of the most solid starting pitchers in baseball. From 2011-2014, Fister averaged nearly 13 wins, 188 innings, and a 3.09 ERA for the Seattle Mariners (2011), Detroit Tigers (2011-2013), and Nationals (2014). The best stretch of Fister's career came after he was traded from the Mariners to the Tigers in 2011, going 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts) in the Motor City.
Reclamation project may be a bit harsh terminology in regards to Fister, a pitcher who is just one year removed from a 16 win, 2.41 ERA for the Nationals. He also has been solid throughout his career in limiting home runs (0.8 HR/9) and walks (1.8 BB/9). Also, while he's never been a hard-thrower -- owning a career 88.7 mph mark on his fastball, per FanGraphs -- Fister saw his average fastball velocity drop to 86.1 last season.
That may be a concern for interested teams as diminished velocity is sometimes a harbinger of arm problems.
While Fister may not be a 5.1 WAR player again, he's an interesting candidate for teams still searching for rotation depth and could end up a steal if he can return to his 2014 form.