Even with this year's free agent market muddled with starting pitching, one name stands out as a possible bargain in free agency.
I've always been a Doug Fister fan and just a day after seeing J.A. Happ get $36 million, I have this feeling that he could be the biggest bargain the free agent market will see.
A player's future contract has a lot to do with what they did in their contract year.
Happ found some magic at the end of the season, pitching to a 1.85 ERA in his final 11 starts and was rewarded with a $12 million per season contract.
Fister's 2015 season was not nearly as pretty.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old went 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 103 innings pitched, losing his spot in the Nationals' starting rotation and missed time to due an elbow injury. In short, Fister was not the Fister that baseball had known.
From 2011 to 2014, Fister was a really good pitcher. Over that span, he worked to a 3.11 ERA and 129 ERA+, making him easily one of the better pitchers in the league.
If Fister was a free agent last offseason, he may have gotten at least $75 million.
His contract year, however, could have cost him $25 million or more. Even though pitching, especially starting pitching, gets paid quite well, it's hard to see Fister's contract surpassing $50 million.
The question becomes: Can Fister bounce back?
His decreasing fastball velocity and strikeout numbers could be an indication that he will not. However, opposing hitters hit for a .316 BABIP off him last year, a good 20 points over his career average and 18 points over the Major League average. BABIP is usually an indication of luck, which Fister clearly did not have in 2015.
Fister has always been a control artist and still showed excellent command last year, shown in his 2.1 BB/9 ratio. He gave up hits at an alarmingly high rate (10.5 H/9), yet another indication that he could bounce back.
In the end, Fister could end up signing a one-year deal (obviously not for $50 million) to rebuild his value. There is also the possibility of him signing a multi-year contract at a much lower price than what he could have received last year.
With the demand for pitching so high, Doug Fister could be free agency's biggest bargain.
The offseason is here. Trades will be made. It's hard to know who exactly could be moved. From experience, I know we could see just about anyone get traded during the winter. I compiled a list of four possible trade candidates this offseason, what could make them appealing, and why they may be dealt.
The 2015 regular season has come to an end. Twenty teams went home packing for the offseason today, ending what has been a long road of just over six months of baseball. With the Cover Those Bases season awards, I am selecting who best made the 2015 season a great one. Without further ado, here are my selections.
It's fairly safe to say that Jonathan Papelbon isn't well-liked around Major League Baseball.
From 2005-2011, Papelbon was known as the Red Sox' fiery, amped-up ninth-inning man. He closed out the 2007 World Series and was Boston's man to put the nail in the opposing team's coffin many, many times.
Papelbon signed with the Phillies that offseason, wanting to go out and win another World Series championship. When that couldn't be done, all Papelbon wanted was to be traded. He spoke out publicly against Phillies management on numerous occasions, leading Philadelphia fans (quite unsurprisingly) to boo and shout at the closer when he came into games.
But Papelbon continued to to his job and got his wish of being traded to a contender at this year's trade deadline. He was sent south to the nation's capital and became a member of the Washington Nationals, the preseason World Series favorite, even though the team had what many thought to be a perfectly fine closer in Drew Storen.
Papelbon's time with Washington has been fine. He came into the ninth inning of many games, shut the door most of the time, and wasn't too loud about it. Because, in sense, he was where he wanted to be. He was out of Philadelphia and with a "winner."
As the Nationals' season started to go downhill, so did Papelbon. From September 8 to 18, when the Nationals were clinging on to their slim playoff hopes, Papelbon had a 5.40 ERA, blew two saves, and took the loss on a separate occasion.
Papelbon may have already tainted his reputation with the Nationals for the rest of his career.
Papelbon had already been suspended by Major League Baseball by throwing at Manny Machado just a few days ago. Because he appealed the suspension, he was able to play.
Today, he went after one of his own.
In the bottom of the eighth inning against the Phillies, Bryce Harper hit a fly ball into short left field. He apparently did not run it out at full speed. Upon coming back to the dugout, Papelbon chirped at Harper, allegedly telling him to run it out. Then, it got ugly. Papelbon grabbed Harper's neck and a dugout altercation between the two started. It was hard to tell, but punches may have been thrown. The two were separated and Harper stormed into the clubhouse.
What should the Nationals do with Papelbon?
Obviously, it wasn't smart of them to acquire the relief pitcher to begin with. Since they traded for Papelbon on July 28, the team is 27-29, and lost 9 1/2 games of ground to the New York Mets (not including today's game).
Papelbon is still signed through next season and is owed $11 million.
The Nationals have multiple options here. They could bite the bullet and consider this to be the last straw and release Papelbon. However, then they owe him the money for next year. They could also try and trade him, however, it would be hard to find a taker for him following what happened today and his history of being a clubhouse poison.
It'll be interesting to see what they decide to do, but one thing's for sure. The Papel-bomb exploded today and it was ugly.
The team from Washington--wearing their white uniforms with the red trim and a curly "w" upon the chest--was up 2-1 through five innings. Gio Gonzalez had pitched five strong innings, and after allowing a hit to lead off the sixth, was done.
A World Series contending team should have closed this game out. But not the Nationals. Four Diamondbacks runs scored in the sixth, three in the eighth, and three in the ninth. The Nationals 2-1 lead was not only erased, but they were completely blown out. If it wasn't for two bottom-of-the-ninth runs, they would have lost by nine runs.
Every team has those games. They come out of the gate okay and blow a lead down the stretch. And as long as it does not become a habit, they are all right.
The issue with the team from Washington is that is has started to become more common. They blew two leads against the Mets in a series where they were swept. (In the first game of the series, they blew the game in the twelfth, but never led.) They lost their division hold and now are looking up at New York.
This was the team with the phenomenal pitching staff and dynamic offense. This was the team that was supposed to win the World Series. Not the team that was supposed to be looking up at the Mets in August.
They claim it was on injuries. And, yes, the Nationals suffered a lot of injuries throughout the season, losing most of their starting lineup. Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Denard Span, otherwise known as 50% of their eight starting position players, spent time on the DL this year.
Those guys are coming back now. They still have to find their timing. But the Nationals still should be better than their 56-51 record suggests. Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister, two uninjured, key members of their starting rotation, have had down years. Their bullpen, outside of Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen, is relatively thin.
Imagine how bad this team could be without the MVP-caliber performances from Bryce Harper and the Cy Young-caliber pitching from Max Scherzer. We might not even be talking about a playoff spot now; we might be talking about what's in store for next season.
The Nationals could be teetering towards a September collapse. They're hanging around, but unless they seriously can fix their problems, it will be hard for them to seriously make a run at the postseason. They're standing on one leg; they're hoping that the injured guys can find their timing and produce. They're hoping some things go their way and they can get hot.
For a team that's just a half game out of the NL East division lead, there is a lot of work that still has to be done.
Who are the 2015 Nationals?