Doug Fister to begin minor league rehab assignment Sunday

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The Nationals were largely praised when they acquired right-hander Doug Fister from the Tigers during the offseason, but he has yet to throw a pitch for the club due to a lat strain suffered during spring training. If all goes according to plan, that will change soon.

Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com reports that Fister threw 40 pitches in a bullpen session this afternoon and is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday, likely with High-A Potomac. The plan calls for him to throw about 60 pitches for his first outing before going five innings or 75 pitches five days later. That would set him up to join the Nationals around May 7.

Fister, 30, posted a 3.30 ERA from 2011-2013. Only six pitchers (min. 500 IP) bested his 123 ERA+ during that time.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.