ARLINGTON -- Right-handed pitcher Doug Fister had a rough first few months to start the 2017 season. He didn't get a job until May 20, started off in the Angels farm system and was released a month later.
The Red Sox picked him up late in June, put him in their rotation and he was 0-5 with a 6.04 ERA in his first seven games. But he finished strong, going 5-4 with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in his last seven starts, and that's what led the Rangers to signing him as a free agent.
"He really seemed to have found something and made some adjustments, and real improvements at the end of last year," general manager Jon Daniels said. "That's something our scouts really picked up on and followed really closely. We saw the success Doug was having at the end of the year with Boston, and it definitely piqued our interest."
The Rangers officially announced Tuesday that Fister agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract to join their 2018 rotation. There is also a $4.5 million option for 2019, with a $500,000 buyout.
The Rangers are still pursuing more starting pitching, but Fister gives them a veteran option in a rotation headed by left-handers Cole Hamels and Martin Perez.
"I have played against the Rangers for a while and I have seen how they go about their business and how much of a nuisance they are on the other side of the ball," Fister said. "Definitely wanted to be a part of that group. The Rangers approached me with a quality offer and it was a fair one."
Fister credited the Red Sox's pitching braintrust in helping him get back on track. The basic goal was to get back the deception in his delivery and better action on his sinker, which is his No. 1 pitch. He also experienced an increase in his velocity.
"I feel like I reverted back to my old ways," Fister said. "Getting back to maximizing my pitching efficiency. I feel like I have the ability to repeat my delivery and get the pitching quality back up to where it used to be. I feel 100 percent, and able to manipulate the ball the way I used to."
Fister, 33, is a nine-year veteran who was 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA in 25 starts for the Nationals in 2014. Over the past three years, he is 22-29 with a 4.58 ERA in 62 starts and 13 relief appearances with the Nationals, Astros and Red Sox.
Fister is not an overpowering pitcher but relies mainly on a sinker with a cut fastball, curve and changeup. Since 2011, he has a ground-ball rate of 49 percent, which ranks ninth among 62 pitchers with at least 900 innings pitched.
Among that group, his 6.41 strikeouts per nine innings is the seventh lowest. But his 2.13 walks per nine innings since 2011 is appealing to a team that issued the third-most walks in the American League in 2017.
"He is a veteran right-handed starter who has won a lot of games and pitched in a lot of big games in the American League," Daniels said.