FILE _ In this Sept. 18, 2016, file photo, Houston Astros starting pitcher Doug Fister throws against the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game in Seattle. Looking to reinforce an injury-ravaged pitching staff, the Los Angeles Angels have signed right-hander Fister to a major league contract. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — Looking to reinforce an injury-ravaged pitching staff, the Los Angeles Angels agreed Saturday to a deal with Doug Fister that pays $1.75 million while he is in the major leagues and $100,000 in the minors.
Fister will report to extended spring training in Arizona to begin workouts. He was a free agent after going 12-13 with a 4.64 ERA in 32 starts for Houston last year. The 6-foot-8 righty threw 180 1/3 innings and pitched pretty well most of the season before fading badly in September and losing his last five decisions.
“We’ve seen Doug pitch for a long time and hopefully his stuff will be at a level that we saw when he was successful,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before Saturday night’s game against the New York Mets. “He’s starting a progression. We’ll just evaluate him after every workout, see where he is, and hopefully, definitely, if he throws the ball like he can, it’s going to be important to our rotation.”
Fister can earn an addition $1 million in performance bonuses based on starts: $100,000 each for eight, 10 and 12; $150,000 apiece for 14, 16 and 18; and $250,000 for 20. He also could get $200,000 for relief appearances: $50,000 each for 25 and 30, and $100,000 for 25.
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Scioscia said the team has no timetable in mind for when Fister might be ready for major league competition. In a procedural move, he initially was optioned to Class A Inland Empire.
Los Angeles has eight pitchers on the disabled list, including four starters: Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano. Still, the makeshift rotation has a 3.38 ERA since April 15 — the third-best mark in the majors during that stretch.
“There’s always a conscious effort to build your pitching depth in your organization,” Scioscia said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had to tap into them, but fortunately they’ve pitched at a level which has helped keep our heads above water. I think coming into the spring we all felt that we had more starting rotation depth than we had last year. So I can’t say that, like, I’m shocked that we’re pitching this well. We felt we could if we had to go this route.”
The 33-year-old Fister is 77-76 with a 3.60 ERA in eight major league seasons with Seattle (2009-11), Detroit (2011-13), Washington (2014-15) and Houston (2016). He’s walked only two batters per nine innings, the best ratio among active big league pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings.
Fister’s best season came with the Nationals in 2014, when he went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA. He also is 4-2 with a 2.60 ERA in eight postseason starts and one relief appearance, including a hard-luck loss for the Tigers against San Francisco in his 2012 World Series start.
“Just like any pitcher, but with Doug it’s going to be contingent on how his stuff plays out,” Scioscia said. “If it plays out the way hopefully it will — this guy knows how to pitch. He’s a good pitcher. I think he understands his stuff and understands what he needs to do to be effective, and he’s been very good at it when he’s thrown the ball at a certain level. So hopefully he’ll be another guy that we can count on if we need it.”
To open a spot for Fister on the 40-man roster, the Angels transferred reliever Andrew Bailey to the 60-day DL. Bailey has been sidelined since April 10 with right shoulder inflammation.
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