HOUSTON -- The Astros' starting rotation, which was second in the American League last season with a 3.71 ERA, got even deeper on Thursday when the team announced the signing of free-agent right-hander Doug Fister to a one-year deal.
Fister, who gets a base salary of $7 million and could earn another $5 million in incentives based on the number of innings pitched, spent the previous two seasons with the Nationals, going 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 25 games last year (15 starts). He went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA for the Nats in 2014 and finished eighth in the National League Cy Young Award voting.
Fister will bolster a rotation led by 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel(20-8, 2.48 ERA) and right-handers Collin McHugh (19-7, 3.89) and Lance McCullers Jr. (6-7, 3.22 ERA). Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.69) and veteran Scott Feldman(5-5, 3.90), who's coming off a shoulder injury, give the Astros plenty of quality depth.
• Fister looks like one of winter's best bargains
"If you think about our team last year, one of the reasons we made the playoffs is we have a very successful starting rotation," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "It's my belief that a championship-caliber team improves even upon its strengths, not just its weaknesses. That's what we're doing. Doug is one of the top right-handed pitchers in the game. He adds to an already strong pitching staff."
Fister, 31, is hoping to rebound from a season in which he battled an elbow flexor tendon injury.
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"My mechanics were a little off, and I didn't realize it until a little too late," Fister said. "I finished strong. I felt like my velocity got back. I felt like my delivery was back. I was getting life on the ball, getting that ground-ball contact. I think that was a huge factor for me in the confidence. I can still pitch. I can do my job whether it's a bullpen guy or starter."
Fister has started 167 games (180 total appearances) in his seven-year Major League career, going 65-63 with a 3.42 ERA. In the last five seasons, Fister ranks 15th in the Majors in ERA (3.42) and has recorded an ERA below 3.70 in four of those five seasons.
• Astros feel they're 'built to go the distance'
"To have a young team that's energized and ready to play, that's where we want to take this," Fister said. "The choice to come here was driven from top down. That's No. 1. We're trying to win a World Series here, and that's your ultimate goal.
Fister repeatedly spoke about the lure of the Astros' defense, which should benefit him because he's a sinkerballer and thrives on weak contact. He spoke about expectations and returning to the postseason in a Houston uniform. In the playoffs, Fister has a career 2.60 ERA in nine games (eight starts) with Detroit (2011-13) and Washington (2014).
"He fits our club in a lot of ways," Luhnow said. "We've got a chance to provide an environment that allows him to succeed and get back to his 2014 form. He provides leadership for a pretty young group of players."
Manager A.J. Hinch isn't ready to name the starting rotation from his stable of quality arms. But having that kind of depth is key when you consider the Astros used 13 starting pitchers in 2015.
"Those are not just capable bodies that can start," Hinch said. "Those are exceptional Major League starting pitchers."
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Angels avoided arbitration with Kole Calhoun on Tuesday night, signing their right fielder to a $3.4 million contract for 2016 and thus taking care of all their arbitration-eligible players, a source told MLB.com.
Calhoun's side originally filed for $3.9 million when teams and players exchanged figures on Jan. 15, while the Angels countered at $2.35 million. The agreement is $275,000 above the midpoint and marks the fifth straight year that the Angels have avoided an arbitration hearing.
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Pitchers Garrett Richards ($6.425 million), Hector Santiago ($5 million) and Fernando Salas ($2.4 million) previously agreed to terms. The Angels' Opening Day payroll is currently slated to be about $164 million, a figure that would represent an $18 million increase in 12 months.
Calhoun, a steal in the eighth round of the 2010 Draft, has batted .263/.316/.435 in 286 games over the last two years, adding 43 home runs and 141 RBIs while hitting mostly in front of Mike Trout. Last year, he won his first Gold Glove Award.
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com Article
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Infielder Logan Forsythe has agreed to a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The deal announced Friday also includes a club option for 2018 and replaces his second and third years of arbitration eligibility. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
The 29-year-old made the most of his first opportunity to play regularly last season. He played well defensively at second base and posted career highs in several offensive categories, including a team-leading .281 batting average.
Forsythe appeared in 126 games at second base, starting 123. He also filled in at first base, third base and designated hitter, starting 25 of 42 games in which he played those positions.
Forsythe ranked second on the team behind third baseman Evan Longoria with 17 home runs, 68 RBI, 152 hits, 33 doubles, 52 extra-base hits and 153 games played.
The Associated Press