Fister off board and a catching question

The Orioles will enter another season without Doug Fister in their rotation.

Maybe we can start up more rumors at the non-waiver trade deadline.

Manager Buck Showalter really likes Fister and has recommended him in the past, but the veteran right-hander reportedly has agreed to a one-year deal with the Rangers. He’s coming off the board while the Orioles try to plug the holes in their rotation.

Fister reportedly will receive $4 million guaranteed, including a $500,000 buyout, and there’s a $4.5 million club option for 2019.

We’re not talking about a top-of-the-rotation starter, but Fister would have been a nice addition to the back end and the cost seems right.

As for “reports” that keep putting Kevin Gausman in prospective trades, the Orioles are down to two returning starters. They need to add pitching, not subtract it. It would be a curious move, to say the least, to send him to another team. And this is especially true if the return is a position player.

Let’s be sure to separate confirmed talks from speculation. They tend to blur together depending on how stories are presented and the headlines that accompany them.

This is only the beginning, of course. Wait until the Winter Meetings get underway.

Pitching has been and will continue to be the top priority for executive vice president Dan Duquette. Just because he traded for outfielder Jaycob Brugman doesn’t mean it’s no longer the most important task of the offseason.

Sisco Throws Black Gear Sidebar.jpgLeft-handed bats are needed and the Orioles are expected to sign a veteran catcher to increase their depth and provide insurance in case they decide that Chance Sisco should return to Triple-A Norfolk. Sisco won’t be handed a job, but I certainly like his chances of breaking camp with the team.

Austin Wynns is on the 40-man roster and also gives the Orioles an option, but a veteran is likely to join the mix on a minor league deal.

Sisco will provide one of the more interesting storylines of spring training. Whether he makes the club and how much he’ll play.

I’m focusing on the latter. Does Sisco split time evenly with Caleb Joseph? Does he emerge as the regular, with Joseph again in a backup role, or are the roles reversed?

They could platoon based on Joseph batting from the right side and Sisco from the left. Showalter may want to ease Sisco into more regular duty and lean more on Joseph, who happily serves as a mentor to younger players. Trey Mancini mentioned Joseph first when asked on MLB Network about veterans who have been the most helpful to him.

I’m not discounting Wynns’ chances of pairing with Joseph on opening day. However, Sisco’s left-handed bat does bring added appeal to a team that leans heavily to the right.

Spring training performance could be the separator. Sisco will have to demonstrate the necessary skills behind the plate. Showalter will fixate on them more so than batting average and other offensive stats.

Wynns is regarded as the top defensive catcher in the organization. He’s earned significant points before reporting to camp.

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