Boston Red Sox trade target: Doug Fister

May 6, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox need pitching depth and one possible option is Doug Fister. What would it take?

The 2016 baseball season is at the quarter pole and the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros are the latest Yin and Yang comparison, or dark and light. The concept was simplified to me as contrary forces that are actually complementary and that summarizes the two teams. Both have needs that can result in a mutually beneficial deal.

The Red Sox have been a fresh breeze of baseball air of an otherwise dismal spring of New England weather that is a mix of unusually cold and wet, followed by a greater degree of cold and wet. So the team has energized the locals with a nice resurgence. Then there are the ‘Stros.

Houston was the sexy pick to make the next move up the rungs of the baseball ladder after a surprise (or was it?) jump into the playoffs in 2015, where they appeared to have series control over the eventual World Series winning Kansas City Royals, only to implode. The  younger players matured and veterans became energized over playoff possibilities for 2016.  So far it has been a forgettable 2016.

More from BoSox Injection

The Astros do have some valuable talent that could bring a significant bounty of prospects – if that is a direction they choose. First on my list is the 22-year-old right-hander, Lance McCullers, but he isn’t going anywhere unless you start talking Mookie Betts. Forget that, folks. But sitting on their roster is a dependable veteran who is in his walk year – Doug Fister.

Fister is a skyscraper pitcher who stands 6’8” and has two attachments to his statistical file that I find rather attractive. The first is a career BB/9 of 1.8. I despise walks almost as much as Heather from Card Holders Services and Fister does pound the strike zone. Pounding the strike zone does not necessarily equate with success, but in Fister’s case, the result is a GB% of 48.7 – close enough to the magical 50%.

With the Rick Porcello pitch to contact mantra comes hits and Fister’s is slightly (9.1) above one an inning for his career. Fister also relies primarily on a fastball (65% rate) that has ticked down to a career low in velocity at 85.9 MPH. The other three pitches Fister tosses are equally divided among slider, curve, and change.

What you have with Fister is a pitcher who will not blow hitters away and will have to be in a decent stealth mode to be effective. His career record is in the .500 range and so far this season Fister is 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA – a fairly dependable lower rotation inning eater. Fister is also far more reliable than the potential pitcher Du Jour dredged up from Pawtucket to be punched around by the Apollo Creed’s of baseball. And, yes, in a perfect Red Sox world I would love to have Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale or Felix Hernandez dropped on the Fenway doorstep – that ain’t happening.

Fenway Park has seen Fister toss 24.1 innings, allowing 26 hits while posting a career 2-3 record and 3.00 ERA. What jumps out is 11 walks in those 24.1 innings, so there may be a Fenway fear factor in place, but he would be pitching for, and not against, the Red Sox.

What would it take to get Fister?

More from Red Sox News

The first possible option would be to dump (AKA – trade) a native Texan – Clay Buchholz – to Houston and toss in a few million to boot, but the Red Sox still appear to have some attachment to Buchholz and would probably wish to keep him just for the depth factor, so look elsewhere.

Houston has Jason Castro as a catcher and Castro is hitting with the same degree of authority as Raul Castro – maybe less. No doubt the struggling Astros would jump at Blake Swihart, but that would not be on the table unless you go back to young Mr. McCullers. The same would certainly apply to the likes of Sam Travis, Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada and several others. This is a potential free agent that is certainly far from the rarefied pitching atmosphere of David Price.

There are two prospects that Boston has that could help Houston this season or in the future. The first is Pat Light – a hard-throwing right-hander who made one brief appearance in Boston with little success. The former first-round pick has 17 strikeouts in 12.1 innings for Pawtucket with one save. With Light, it is and has been all about control, as Light has issued seven walks with the PawSox. The arm has the ability to blow batters away or – unfortunately – scare the bejeebers out of them with a near 100 MPH heater gone astray. Is the risk worth it to Houston?

The second player is Brian Johnson, who was one – if not the top – pitcher in the International League in 2015. Johnson made one brief and forgettable start for Boston before an arm injury cut his season off. Johnson, like so many young pitchers – especially Boston pitchers – loves to take a walk on the wild side. In 2016, the 25-year-old lefty has issued 22 free passes in 33 innings. A troublesome return to the Land of Lost Control. Would a package of both be worth the risk to either team?

Any deal is based on need and the Astros have looked young in their moves over the years and it shows. This is a team that is littered with high draft picks, thanks to dismal team performances, but both Light and Johnson have a closed door in Boston. Both have an upside that could (or maybe not?) develop in Houston.

Next: Red Sox fans seeing the real Rick Porcello in May

Of course, Houston may have entirely different needs and players based on internal discussions. That is why GM’s get hired, fired and media abused.

Sources: FanGraphs. Statistics through 5/17.