Red Sox possibilities on Non-Tender roster options
With Doug Fister going to the Rangers there is another Texas possibility that has surfaced in 32-year-old right-hander Mike Fiers. Fiers now has a ring for his service with the champion Astros in 2017 but has been non-tendered as the reward for his service.
Fiers tosses four basic pitches – curve, change, slider and four-seam fastball that tops out in the low – very low – 90s. Fiers was in the Astros rotation until the arrival of one Justin Verlander and that is certainly noted as an upgrade of significance. The core numbers were rather Fister like with a 5.22 ERA, 5.43 FIP, and 0.1 fWAR. Fiers posted a 3.6 BB/9 and 8.6 K/9 for his 153 innings in 2017.
What catches the attention is a 1.9 HR/9 rate and managing to lead the American League in hit batters with 13. The previous season Fiers led the AL in balks with 17. In 2017 that balk total was reduced to a mere 11. Fiers finished up with an 8-10 record, but 2016 was a season that showed better results. Is a return possible?
In 2016 Fiers finished the season 11-8 with a far more respectable 4.48 ERA. What is also of caution is despite pitching in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park Fiers has more difficulty on the road. Scanning Fiers’ career and 2017 season what is obvious is a number five rotation pitcher or spot starter – essentially his role with the Astros after Verlander landed in Houston.
Pitching is a perpetual need and with Eduardo Rodriguez out for the first two months of 2018, the Red Sox certainly could use some added depth. Fister just signed a two-year deal for $8 Million so Fiers may be in that range. Fiers will have suitors and his salary is of consideration, but do they have other cheaper options?
My first reaction is the Red Sox have Hector Velazquez who was impressive at both Pawtucket and Boston in 2017. Reaction two is the Red Sox continually talk about “stretching out” pitchers most notably Matt Barnes. A certainly less expensive option.
Fiers may be the best available starter for pitchers with a rather questionable return and a signing would represent an insurance policy based on previous history. Is Steven Wright and David Price ready to go a full slate? How long will the Rodriguez recovery be? Who else will break down in spring training or during the season? Sometimes it is worth buying insurance and other times it is not.
Signing Possibility: Good