The Colorado Rockies were looking to strengthen their bullpen this offseason. The departure of Greg Holland forced them to find a new closer, and there were several alternatives out there.
However, if they wanted to at least maintain what Holland did, then the only two choices were either Holland or Wade Davis. And Colorado settled for the latter, as Davis signed a three-year, $52 million contract with the organization this Friday. This contract will make the former Chicago Cubs closer one of the most expensive relief pitchers in baseball history. In fact, he will receive the highest per-year salary for a reliever EVER. That is quite an accomplishment.
But aside from that personal milestone, there is no question Colorado made a great move here.
The Rockies needed a reliable bullpen arm to replace the departing Holland, and there was no one better in the open market than Davis. The 32-year-old finished this past season with a 4-2 record, 32 saves, a 2.30 ERA, and 79 strikeouts. His 32 saves ranked fifth in the National League and established as a lock-down reliever for a Chicago team that reached the NLCS.
But even if we remove the 2017 season from his calendar, Wade has been effective for quite a while now. He has been a full-time reliever for the past four years, and the stats are telling. Davis has a 23-6 mark, 1.45 ERA, 79 saves and 313 strikeouts as opposed to just 87 walks across 244 appearances (241.1 innings). Davis also averages 11.7 SO/9 and has a 3.60 K/BB ratio over that span. Virtually every single stat over that four-year period screams “elite reliever”.
Davis has been successful in the playoffs, too, posting a 1.40 ERA across 28 appearances. And considering the Rockies are likely to contend for a Wild Card spot, there is no question Davis’ postseason experience is quite a plus. He has something few others relievers had in the open market: a proven track record and playoff success. That’s usually a winning combination and part of the reason why Davis was such a hot commodity.
Things are different in Colorado, though. And the fact that Holland had success doesn’t necessarily mean that Davis will be successful, too. But Colorado needed a reliable arm to bolster the back of the bullpen, and they got the right man to do so. Only time will tell whether he responds to the lofty expectations around him. But there is no question Davis has enough talent to, at least, fill the void left by Holland last season.