Age on Opening Day 2016: 32
How acquired: Trade with Tigers, Dec. 2013
MLB service time: 5 years, 58 days
2015 salary+bonuses: $11.4 million
Contract status: Free agent
2015 stats: 25 G, 15 GS, 103 IP, 120 H, 56 R, 48 ER, 14 HR, 24 BB, 63 K, 1.40 WHIP, 5-7, 4.19 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 0.2 WAR
Quotable: "For me, once I'm on the mound, I'm on the mound. It doesn't matter if I'm starting a game or relieving in a game, it doesn't matter. Once the ball is in your hand, it's time for business," Fister on moving to the bullpen for the first time in his career.
2015 analysis: Doug Fister, much like his teammates Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond, did not have the season he hoped for in the final year of his contract. Fister, in fact, had the worst season of his career and it ended up costing him his job in the Nationals' rotation.
It was a remarkable turn of events for the right-hander, who was arguably the team's best pitcher the year before. Fister saw his ERA go up from 2.41 in 2014 all the way to 4.19. He gave up 56 runs in 103 innings in 2015 after allowing 52 total through 164 innings the year before.
The Nationals' rotation did not live up to expectations this season and perhaps nobody exemplified that more than Fister. He was their rock in his first season in D.C., a model of consistency. Only four times in 25 starts in 2014 did he allow four earned runs or more. He did that eight times in 2015.
By August, Fister was replaced in the rotation by rookie Joe Ross and banished to the Nats' bullpen. Now he enters a crucial offseason with his value significantly diminished.
2016 outlook: Before the 2015 season, it looked like a foregone conclusion that the Nats would extend a qualifying offer to Fister this winter and in turn receive a compensation pick when he signed elsewhere. At this point, though, it looks very unlikely that they will make that offer, as Fister could very well take it given the off-year that he had.
If Fister had hit free agency last offseason, he would have been in line for a lucrative multi-year contract. Now, however, he may be smart to take a one-year, prove-it deal and try to reset for next offseason with the hope of cashing in on a big contract.
Like Zimmermann, Fister enters a free agent class stocked full of quality starting pitchers. He may be on the outside looking in of the top 10 starters available. That should not bode well for Fister, who some teams may see as a bargain once they peer past the big names like Zack Greinke, David Price and Johnny Cueto.