No. 1 – Doug Fister
Doug Fister is the most interesting candidate on this list. He clearly has the ability to be a full-time starter and has performed extremely well in recent years. However, he is still without a job and is coming off of his worst season in his career.
In 2016, Fister made 32 starts and pitched 180.1 innings but had a career high ERA at 4.64 for the Houston Astros. He also set career highs in runs allowed (98), home runs allowed (24), and walks allowed (62). While this all sounds like a pitcher the Cardinals should avoid, let us not forget that Fister is only 2 seasons removed from being a top-8 finalist for the National League Cy Young award when he was with the Washington Nationals.
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Fister throughout his career has been a 4th/5th starter that has also spent time in the bullpen. He’s a perfect candidate to fill the void left by Alex Reyes because he is exactly what they need. Fister is looking for a short-term contract so that he can rebuild his value and take advantage of free agency next season. He’s also looking to be a part of a playoff contender considering he’s waited this long to sign somewhere while teams like the Padres and Reds are making offers.
Fister would provide security for the starting rotation if an injury occurs or someone like Michael Wacha fails to perform. He would also add experience, including playoff experience, and veteran leadership to a young team. Fister has been pretty consistent throughout his career and has been a reliable innings eater at the bottom of the rotation. This type of pitcher is exactly what the Cardinals could use after losing Reyes and being forced to rely on Wacha.
The Cardinals should sign Doug Fister to a one-year deal before turning to a young minor league pitcher because he’s the best available option in free agency and because he fits what the team needs in a near-perfect way and won’t cost a premium piece. Fister should agree to the deal because he needs a bounce back chance and there aren’t many clubs that are better than the Cardinals at rebuilding a player’s value.
Alex Reyes’s injury left the St. Louis Cardinals with a bit of a gap in their pitching depth. Going out and signing a short-term filler would help mitigate any further risks as well as add quality depth to a team that seems to need it every year. Guys like Fister, Peavy, Lewis, and Villanueva have built their careers on opportunities like this and the Cardinals should take advantage of that.