Red Sox

Doug Fister leaves Red Sox to sign with Rangers

fister.jpg

Doug Fister leaves Red Sox to sign with Rangers

BOSTON -- Doug Fister’s short time with the Red Sox brought revised mechanics, improved velocity and enough success to warrant legitimate interest elsewhere.

The right-hander has agreed to a major-league deal with the Rangers, pending a physical, a person with knowledge of the agreement told NBC Sports Boston.

Fister, entering his age-34 season, had a 4.88 ERA in 15 starts and three relief appearances for the Sox during the regular season. What’s not reflected in the ERA are increases in both his velocity and strikeout numbers. He fanned 8.3 per nine innings, up from an average of 5.6 per nine innings in the three seasons prior.

MORE: Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

The Sox are pursuing power hitting and lefty relief help, but apparently feel content with their collection of potential rotation rams.

“I don’t think that’s a main priority for us this winter time, starting pitcher,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in mid-November. “Because I think we like our starting pitching. However, as the winter progresses, if somebody’s out there that makes sense to add, I wouldn’t say that we definitely would not do it, but I’m comfortable where we are.”

Fister had a poor showing in his Game 3 start in the Division Series, lasting 1 1/3 innings. Nonetheless, the Sox coaching staff was a significant help to Fister, allowing for at least the possibility someone else now will benefit from the hard work they put in to assist Fister’s own diligence. Among the suggestions was a move to the first-base side of the rubber, helping to alleviate some physical stress in his delivery. That idea came from recently promoted pitching coach Dana LeVangie.

“Working on the sinker depth, working on getting the curve ball spin right and then you know kind of just reacting to how the league is this year,” assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister said during the year. “It’s been harder on sinker ballers in general, just because guys are going all or nothing with their approach. So he has been working on different strategies to kind of evolve himself in how he mixes and how he attacks the zone, and now kind of the final thing is working on getting some depth on the changeup like he had in years past.

“It’s been impressive to watch him work, to watch him try and pitch competitively while also making all these adjustments, because he went in a very different direction last year in Houston. And unwinding that, while also trying to get back to some of his strengths -- while also trying to add something new -- it’s been fun to watch him, and it’s really good to see him have success. Because he’s a pitcher who was extremely successful at one point, who is still very talented, has an athleticism and a range of motion you don’t usually see in a 6-foot-8 guy. And so there’s a lot of talent there, a lot of things to work with, and he’s put in the time.”

Fister didn’t make his first major-league start of the year until June, when the Sox claimed him off waivers from the Angels, who had him at Triple-A. Fister proved a worthwhile, low-risk pick-up, and in many ways that remains his profile as a free-agent signee.

“I’m very -- I don’t want to say content, but if my career stopped right now at this point, today, you know I can hang my hat on knowing I've done everything I could to have a successful career,” Fister said in August when asked if he worried his career could be over prior to joining the Sox. “Maybe there’s some people out there that wanted to, needed to see it or I needed to prove it to somebody. But I have always felt that I still had what it takes to be a starter and I still feel that. You know, I’ll feel that ’til the day I hang up my cleats. Even if I’m in the bullpen. Either way, it’s fine. I’ve got have it in my heart that I know I can go out and get a big league hitter out at any point.”

Fister had a 2.79 ERA in a seven-start stretch from July 31 to Sept. 6, holding opponents to a .194 average in that time.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

[emebed]<iframe src="https://art19.com/shows/boston-sports-tonight/episodes/e2e2922c-2e8c-4b7f-96cc-169b60e349da/embed" style="width: 100%; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" scrolling="no"></iframe>[/embed]

0:41 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins from the TD Garden to discuss the Celtics getting the win over the Nuggets, Kyrie Irving taking advantage of his matchup, Shane Larkin’s performance off the bench, and if Gordon Hayward will return this season.

5:18 - Michael Holley, Tom Curran, Michael Hurley, and DJ Bean discuss Tom Brady’s success in his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers and if that success will continue on Sunday. 

9:34 - Evan Drellich joins from the MLB Winter Meetings to talk about the Red Sox needing to stay disciplined with their roster flexibility, and the latest on J.D. Martinez. 

15:09 - Holley, Curran, Hurley, and Bean discuss Malcolm Butler’s now deleted retweet about Jay Cutler’s success against the Patriots when facing a blitz.

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — If the lineup looks the same on Opening Day, set off on a tantrum. For now, just keep your anger primed in the queue. Maybe even prepare for an eventuality of relief and excitement.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is moving with discipline. Even if some of his process this winter has been questionable, he’s still taking a measured approach rather than setting a match to an already shriveling farm system and payroll. 

Discipline requires waiting, and the lull invites frustration for those who want everything now.

MORE:

“Even though some things are starting to happen, there’s a lot to still be done over the winter time,” Dombrowski said Wednesday.

He’s right.

As a Sox fan, you can’t have it both ways. Either you want Dombrowski to act responsibly with the sustainability of the franchise in mind, or you want all the big names now, now, now — and are keen on an inevitably disastrous roster. 

The Sox have had a lot of big splashes in recent years. They have to move cautiously in waters this deep. As one executive put it recently: “Only horrible organizations keep spending and spending and spending.”

Here’s betting fans will be rewarded this winter with an upgraded lineup to feel good about, even if the Sox haven’t crossed the finish line yet. 

“Every time we have a meeting we talk about [timing]. Some players are going to start signing pretty soon,” Dombrowski said. “And some players that we have interest in, we’ll start signing pretty soon. And if you wait, you lose some players that you may have interest in.”

One thing is for sure — and it appears to be getting lost even with big names like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer still out there — just because the Red Sox haven’t completed a deal, they are doing a ton of work behind the scenes.

"I think we're closer to getting answers on some things,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “There have been a couple of things, calls we've made and heard from people that have eliminated us and some have kept us in there. But I can't say that I'm any closer to getting things done other than gathering continued information — because I don't know what happens with other clubs. I don't know where they stand with their conversations with other teams. There’s still a lot, so many conversations going on, and a lot of different possibilities, a lot of different trade things happening so I'm not really sure. 

“I think we've got a pulse of what's happening and I don't think anything's happened that's surprised us so far, but there haven't been that many things that have happened either. A lot of relievers have signed, that's been the biggest thing and that hasn't been our biggest thing that we're pursuing.”

(Whether they should be pursuing it with a little more aggressiveness is worth a thought, however.) 

- The Sox were keeping tabs on Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins outfielder who was traded to the Cardinals.

“We asked about him and they called me back beforehand, just to let me know,” Dombrowski said of the Marlins. “So we were in the mix enough to do that.”

Ozuna could have done some DH’ing and also played outfield. Dombrowski noted the Marlins got upper-level pitching in the trade. He didn’t specifically note that the Red Sox don’t have as much upper-level pitching to offer, but that is the case.

- The Sox have talked “generalities” with free agents when it comes to contract terms, Dombrowski said. 

- Dombrowski said bringing back free agent Eduardo Nunez is on his radar.

- Super agent Scott Boras on Wednesday defended J.D. Martinez’s defense, which isn’t generally well regarded. Boras also talked about the "prestige value" of Eric Hosmer, another client.

- Boras said the Red Sox have not told him it’s their intention to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.