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Fister glad to sign contract early, autographs now

Starter joined Rangers in November, avoiding slow-moving free-agent market
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Doug Fister was at Kroger in north Arlington on Thursday signing autographs.

He was not at home in Merced, Calif., waiting for the phone to ring like so many other free agents this winter. That has to be a big relief during a winter when the free-agent market has moved far slower than anybody expected.

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Doug Fister was at Kroger in north Arlington on Thursday signing autographs.

He was not at home in Merced, Calif., waiting for the phone to ring like so many other free agents this winter. That has to be a big relief during a winter when the free-agent market has moved far slower than anybody expected.

"Absolutely," Fister said. "That's one of the things … everybody has said since the day we got the phone call. That's a big thing for me. It has allowed me to go to work and not worry about the other business, put in some hard work and time with my trainer and playing catch with my dad every day. Those things have helped me start to get ready and ramp it up."

Fister signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Rangers on Nov. 28. Only nine other starting pitchers have signed for a greater amount. Fister was a free agent last winter and didn't sign until late May.

Video: Rangers sign Fister to a one-year deal

Now, there are 30 or more starting pitchers still available, including Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

"I don't think anybody knew this, and that is a tough one," Fister said. "It's really hard, after going through it last year and not being picked up until [May]. It's a hard time to sit and wait and stay ready and be at the top of their game. I definitely feel for the guys. Hopefully things will start rolling for them."

The Rangers needed to acquire three starting pitchers this winter, and they moved quickly. Fister and Mike Minor were signed as free agents, and Matt Moore was acquired from the Giants before the new year. They are expected to join Cole Hamels and Martin Perez in the Rangers' rotation, with Matt Bush as another possibility.

Of course, Rangers fans are well aware that Darvish and other big names are still out there.

"There is a reason for the big boys, and that's what they do," Fister said. "They have proven themselves. At the same time, there is always somebody up and coming, doing the small things and getting the outs. Sometimes, it's not a flashy radar gun or something spectacular, but it's a matter of routine and going out getting outs. That's what the pitchers on our pitching staff have shown to do."

Video: TOR@BOS: Fister fans nine, allows one in seven frames

Fister has been considered a "big boy" before, despite going 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA for the Red Sox last season. He was a 16-game winner for the Nationals in 2014 and has nine postseason starts on his resume.

The Rangers are counting heavily on a comeback season from him. They have the same hopes for Moore, who was 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA for the Giants last season. He was a 17-game winner for the Rays in 2013 and won 13 in 2016, his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Moore is only 28, and the Rangers are counting on the ability still being there.

"Yeah, absolutely. I don't feel any different than I have in the past," Moore said. "Last year at times it was there, and at times it wound up being a tough game. I still believe in myself as much as I ever have. Going into the season with a new club and new energy, I think it's a great opportunity. I am excited about it, especially after last season there wasn't much to be excited about."

Video: COL@SF: Moore whiffs six over six-plus shutout frames

Moore joined Fister in signing autographs on Thursday. They will both be at FanFest on Saturday at Globe Life Park. They have settled into their offseason workout routines and are well on their way toward being ready for Spring Training.

It's better than being home waiting for the phone to ring.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Doug Fister, Matt Moore