Here we are, talking about money once again. Major League Baseball is a business afterall and players have to make money. Their performance depends how much they make just like any other job. If you perform well, you will get paid like it, if not you will be released or sent to the Minor Leagues. Doug Fister wants to talk about money and how much he is worth, so really how much should he get paid?
Fister came over this winter in a trade from the Detroit Tigers for Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. That was a steal for the Washington Nationals if Fister stays healthy. Now it is time for Fister to earn his money. He has one month to settle on a number with Mike Rizzo and the Nationals or he will sit down with an arbitrator and they will figure it out. Mike Rizzo and the Nationals might not want it to get that far.
Fister last season was one of the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball. He got ground balls more than fifty percent of the time, while only allowing a fly ball to be a homer nine percent. He is one of the better strike throwers in all of baseball as well. He does all this while using as many as six pitches, but sticks with five the majority of the time. He didn’t use one pitch more than thirty percent while using three pitches at least twenty percent of the time. Doing so he kept hitters off balance and got weak ground balls to infielders for outs.
Speaking of the infield. He will have a better infield defense in the nation’s capital. In Detroit he had Miguel Cabrera out of position at third and Prince Fielder at first, while having Jhonny Peralta at shortstop for some of the season. In D.C. he will only have one liability in the infield in Ryan Zimmerman. He should be able to be better this season if he is 100% healthy like he says.
Back to why that matters. If he is getting a ground ball more than fifty percent of the time, he has to have the fielders to field it and make outs. Last season his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was the worst of his career at .332. This means when a ball was put in play, it was a hit thirty-three percent of the time. With a better infield defense that percentage can come down to around twenty-eight percent.
All this comes into play when going to pay a player. Fister had a 4.6 Wins Above Replacement last season which should earn him $22.8 million. This is because one WAR earns a player $5-$7 million depending on who you ask. That being said that is why Fister should earn $22 million. Yes, $22 million for his performance last season. He asked for $8.5 million with the Nationals offering $5.75 million. That is a huge gap for a player that could easily earn $12-$15 million on the free-agent market.
If the Nationals take this to the arbitrator Fister should get the $8.5 million he asked for. If they can settle around $7.5 that would be a steal for the Nationals as they get to save money and get an almost five win player.
So, how much is he really worth? I would give him $17 million a season, because the numbers show that he is better than Jordan Zimmermann who just inked a $24 million deal over two seasons, earning $16.5 in 2015. If that is the case than Fister should make more. It won’t be that way since Zimmermann was already a part of the organization and refuses to take a team friendly extension. Fister seems to be quite different and asked for a more than reasonable salary.
Be careful Mike Rizzo, if you let this go all the way through you are losing money and trust of a brand new player in the organization. Make a deal for $7.5 and do the smart thing. Doug Fister will earn that $7.5 million by the middle of June and you will have yourself a great player. He solidifies the rotation and makes it one of the best in baseball, do the right thing.