In an interview with ESPN980's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan on "The Sports Fix" in January, shortly after the Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer to a 7-year/$210M free agent deal, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talked about having pursued Scherzer briefly the previous winter before working out a deal for Detroit Tigers' starter Doug Fister.
"We inquired about Max first and moved to Doug shortly thereafter," Rizzo told the show's hosts. "All their indications were that they wanted to hold on to Max for that season. The discussions didn't take that long and we moved on to trying to see if we could get a Fister deal done."
One year later, after a (16-6), +1.3 fWAR campaign in the nation's capital over which he posted a 2.41 ERA, a 3.93 FIP, 24 walks (1.32 BB/9) and 98 Ks (5.38 K/9) in 25 starts and 164 IP, Fister was once again talked about as a possible trade candidate this winter, since he was entering the second of the two years of team control he had left when the Nats acquired him.
Fister told reporters in December he didn't listen to the rumors out there.
"I'm a pitcher for the Washington Nationals right now and that's the stance I always take," he said. "I'm a part of this group. I'm a part of this team. And that's what I want to be and until something else happens, until I'm told otherwise that's what I want to be."
"This is the uniform I wear," Fister continued. "I know as of right now I'd be a free agent after next year, but I love this uniform, I love the team that we have."
Fister said the same when he arrived at Spring Training. He wasn't traded this winter in spite of his pending free agency. Neither was Jordan Zimmermann, another free agent after this season, who was mentioned often this winter in trade rumors.
For Fister, the opportunity to come back and be part of an even stronger rotation than he was part of last season was an exciting proposition.
"'Last year was a great rotation, this one is even better, I think,'" Fister told reporters including the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes.
"'The additions we have, and now, again, having that relationship after a year with the other guys is for me a huge plus. It’s an honor to be a part of this staff, and I think it’s going to be a good thing for us.'"
Fister's first outing of his contract year takes place this afternoon when he and the Nationals take on the New York Yankees in George M. Steinbrenner Field.
The game is being broadcast on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. and it's also on WFAN 660 AM in NY and the YES Network at 1:05 PM EDT.
Here's the Nationals' lineup via the WaPost's Chelsea Janes:
For Nats, accord. to board in Yanks press box: Taylor 8, Frandsen 5, Desmond 6, Moore 7, Ka'Aihue 3, Carp DH, Lobaton 2, Robinson 9, Difo 4— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 8, 2015
MLB.com's Bill Ladson posted a list of the pitchers who are expected to follow Fister on the mound:
Who's watching the Nationals?