Wade Davis to sign 3-year, $52M deal with Rockies, as Colorado continues to spend big on a bullpen

Melinda Robinson
By Melinda Robinson December 29, 2017 22:42

Wade Davis to sign 3-year, $52M deal with Rockies, as Colorado continues to spend big on a bullpen

Wade Davis to sign 3-year, $52M deal with Rockies, as Colorado continues to spend big on a bullpen

Rugged reliever Wade Davis, a three-time all-star, will sign a booming free-agent contract with the Rockies that will make him among the richest relief pitchers in baseball, the club confirmed Friday afternoon.

The Rockies capped an aggressive, offseason bullpen spending spree by making Davis their new closer. He will get a three-year guaranteed contract worth about $52 million — his annual take, at about $17.3 million, is the highest ever signed by a reliever based on yearly average. Davis’ deal outpaces the record-setting contract the Yankees gave Aroldis Chapman a year ago.

Davis’ deal will include a fourth-year option that could increase his take-home pay to about $66 million. Yahoo Sports first reported the salary details citing a salary source.

Davis threw 58 2/3 innings for the Cubs in 2017 with a 2.30 ERA and 32 saves in 33 opportunities. And his 2.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio, with 12.1 Ks and 4.3 walks per nine innings, are statistical upgrades over Colorado’s closer last season, veteran Greg Holland. And among balls in play, Davis forced 40.5 percent into groundballs — a keen trait to carry at wide-open Coors Field.

The 32-year-old right-hander has been among the best relievers in baseball since 2014, when the Kansas City Royals converted him from a starter to the bullpen. In 241 1/3 innings over that span, Davis has a 1.45 ERA. He helped push the Royals to a World Series two years ago before landing with the Chicago Cubs last year.

With Davis and Holland at the backend of their bullpen in 2015, the Royals helped set what would become a baseball-wide trend of extended, shutdown bullpen innings. Davis’ 0.95 ERA in 2015 locked down even slim leads for the Royals and in a four-year stretch, between the Royals and Cubs, his season-ending ERA finished below 2.00 three times.

The Rockies in recent weeks have also been chasing a new contract with Holland but Davis’ signing appears to leave Holland in the lurch. Davis in Kansas City also replaced Holland as the Royals’ closer after Holland began to suffer an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery.

Holland last season signed a lucrative, incentive-heavy contract with the Rockies in his return from elbow reconstruction surgery that left him out of baseball for more than a year. He excelled in Colorado, with a league-high 41 saves and an all-star berth. Holland wanted to return to Colorado, sources said, and the Rockies were interested in re-signing him. Bridich said two weeks ago the club had a “strong offer” on the table for Holland.

“We are looking to add talent and impact to our bullpen,” Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich said earlier this month. “We have to keep our minds open to as many ideas as we can.”

Long a desert of quality bullpen arms, Colorado this offseason has built something of a super-bullpen. Between Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw, the Rockies signed three of the top seven available free-agent relief pitchers this winter.

The Rockies have now committed $106 million to their bullpen in the past month. McGee re-signed with the Rockies on a three-year deal for $27 million. Shaw, a set-up man for the Cleveland Indians last season, signed a similar $27 million deal with the Rockies that includes a fourth-year option.

“The last few years, the teams that have deep bullpens — the Astros, Royals, Yankees, us in Cleveland — they all had deep bullpens,” Shaw said. “The starters don’t need to go seven or eight innings anymore. They can go five or six innings, and then the rest of us can come in and throw an inning-and-a-third here, or an inning-and-a third there. It’s definitely a trend.”

Colorado is also committed to paying $7 million apiece to relievers Adam Ottavino and lefty Mike Dunn. And longman Chris Rusin is set to enter his first year of arbitration.

So the Rockies, before the New Year, have invested more than $50 million in their bullpen for the 2018 season alone — among the priciest bullpens in baseball’s history — with Davis as the likely closer. His signing is an opulent watermark for a club that for years seemed reluctant to spend big on relief pitchers.

Bridich said he expects Colorado’s payroll this season to be about what it was in 2017, when the club started the season with about $127 million in salary costs and finished at about $156 million.

Davis’ deal outpaces a run of recent wealthy deals for closers. The New York Yankees before last season gave Chapman the then-highest yearly contract for a reliever, a five-year, $82 million deal that pays him about $17.2 million annually by average. The Los Angeles Dodgers pay their closer, Kenley Jansen, about $16 million per year by average on a five-year, $80 million deal.

By signing Davis away from the Cubs, the Rockies will forfeit a second-round draft pick this season. But after Holland declined their qualifying offer for next season, Colorado will receive compensation in return if he signs with another team.


Big spending

The Rockies are set to sign free-agent right-hander Wade Davis to a three-year, $52 million contract — the richest deal ever given to a reliever, based on average annual value:

Pitcher Team 1st Yr. Contract Annual Avg.
Wade Davis Rockies 2018 3 yrs, $52 million $17.3 million
Aroldis Chapman Yankees 2017 5 yrs, $86 million $17.2 million
Kenley Jansen Dodgers 2017 5 yrs, $80 million $16 million
Mark Melancon Giants 2017 4 yrs, $62 million $15.5 million
Jonathan Papelbon Phillies 2012 4 yrs, $50 million $12.5 million
David Robertson White Sox 2015 4 yrs, $46 million $11.5 million
Francisco Cordero Reds 2008 4 yrs, $46 million $11.5 million

Davis career stats

Year Team G W L ERA IP BB K
2009 Tampa Bay 6 2 2 3.72 36.1 13 36
2010 Tampa Bay 29 12 10 4.07 168.0 62 113
2011 Tampa Bay 29 11 10 4.45 184.0 63 105
2012 Tampa Bay 54 3 0 2.43 70.1 29 87
2013 Kansas City 31 8 11 5.32 135.1 58 114
2014 Kansas City 71 9 2 1.00 72.0 23 109
2015 Kansas City 69 8 1 0.94 67.1 20 78
2016 Kansas City 45 2 1 1.87 43.1 16 47
2017 Chicago Cubs 59 4 2 2.30 58.2 28 79
Totals 9 years 393 59 39 3.45 835.1 312 768

Published at Fri, 29 Dec 2017 16:47:45 +0000

Melinda Robinson
By Melinda Robinson December 29, 2017 22:42