The Colorado Rockies continued to bolster their bullpen as they grabbed the best reliever on the free agent market. Wade Davis signed a three-year deal to become the new closer in Colorado, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
Davis will be paid $52 million over the duration of the three years, which comes with a $14 million vesting option for 2021 if Davis finishes 30 games in 2020. Davis’ Annual Average Value(AAV) of $17.33 million is now the highest ever for a reliever. Davis spent last season with the Cubs, pitching to a 2.30 ERA in 58.2 innings, along with 1.1 fWAR. The track record is strong for Davis, dating back to 2014 when his run of dominance began.
Since he became a full-time reliever in 2014 for the Kansas City Royals, Davis has been one of the best relievers in baseball. Among qualified relievers, he has boasted the lowest ERA (1.45) during that time and is sixth in fWAR (7.4). Davis has accomplished this with a lethal three-pitch-mix: a mid 90s fastball, low 90s cutter and one of the hardest curveballs in all of baseball. This has led to a deadly combination of of strikeouts and weak contact (top-20 in both strikeout percentage and soft-hit percentage since 2014).
Davis did show some signs of decline in his age 31 season in 2017, seeing a huge uptick in walks (11.6 walk percentage) and posting the lowest fastball velocity since he became a full-time reliever (94.3 mph). Even with the negative trends, he still threw nearly 60 innings of quality baseball and posted an elite 21.1 K/BB. The Coors Field factor and age are clearly worries for Davis moving forward but it appears he still has plenty in the tank to be a strong reliever.
Davis will join a bullpen that has seen some serious improvement this offseason, with the club signing both Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee earlier this month. After losing numerous relievers to free agency, the Rockies made it clear early on that they wanted to revamp the bullpen and they did just that. While the club has more urgent long-term needs, namely re-signing Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, these bullpen additions will keep the Rockies competitive again in 2018.