Miami has expressed a desire to add at least one starting pitcher this winter, and the club is still searching for an arm. While the Marlins might be considering a trade for another starter, Doug Fister would likely prove to be a valuable addition to the club's 2016 roster.
To this point in the off-season, numerous rumors have been discussed while minimal action has followed. The Marlins hired Don Mattingly and his staff, but with regard to personnel, appear to be waiting for the right opportunities. Miami re-signed Jeff Mathis earlier this week, but beyond that has been relatively quiet.
Although the Marlins are actively searching for a starting pitcher, Jose Fernandez trade talks have been consistently discussed. Before the start of the annual Winter Meetings, one reported indicated there was an expectation the Marlins would move Fernandez before opening day. During the meetings, the Marlins reportedly were fielding offers but did not move their ace. Some discussions, such as those with the Dodgers, appear to be ongoing. However, the Marlins are not necessarily shopping Fernandez.
The Fernandez situation is notable because it will directly affect Miami's decision with regard to adding starting pitching. If the Marlins trade Fernandez, they will likely receive at least one top arm in return. If there are two pitchers involved in a potential deal, the organization might not have to explore free agent options.
If the Marlins keep Fernandez on the roster heading into 2016, Fister should prove to be an upgrade. At 31, he had a down year with the Nationals, pitching to a 4.19 ERA and 4.55 FIP over 103.0 innings and 15 starts. Since he did not have a notable amount of success last season, Fister should be relatively affordable.
Fister would complement Fernandez, Jarred Cosart and Tom Koehler well since he has proven he can be effective. Over 164.0 innings and 25 starts with the Nationals in 2014, Fister pitched to a 2.41 ERA and 3.93 FIP. His career ERA is 3.42, and like Marcell Ozuna, Fister is viewed by many as a bounce back candidate. If the Marlins are able to sign him, there is a chance he quickly raises his value and thrives.
The addition of Fister would enable the Marlins to allow non-roster invitees to compete with Justin Nicolino and Adam Conley for the final spot in the rotation once spring training begins.
Now that Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, and Zack Greinke are all off the market, middle tier starting pitchers should start being considered by clubs seeking pitching depth. Fister is among them, and the Marlins, if interested, should act quickly because Fister might not be available for long.
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