Rockies Sign Wade Davis to $52 Million Contract – Highest Ever Salary for a Reliever

wade-davis-cubsThe Colorado Rockies are really focusing on their already-strong bullpen. They just signed relief pitcher Wade Davis to a three-year, $52 million contract. This deal also includes an option for a fourth year, which would push the total contract to $66 million.

The guaranteed money will have the Rockiest committing $17.33 million to one of the game’s best relievers. The 32-year-old was widely considered the top free agent relief pitcher on the market.

It’s obvious that Colorado sees value and what Davis has done over the past few seasons. Pitching for the Chicago Cubs last season, he finished with a 2.30 ERA, 32 saves, and 79 strikeouts in 58.2 innings.

Perhaps what won the Rockies over is how well Davis played in a division-series-clinching road game against the Washington Nationals. He struck out three batters over 2.3 innings to help Chicago advance.

Davis was also a key part of the Kansas City Royals team that won the World Series in 2015. He took over for closer Greg Holland following an injury and didn’t miss a beat. Davis will once again take over for Holland, who’s now with the Rockies and coming off Tommy John surgery.

Colorado Lands Another Top Reliever

Colorado was once dismissed among top free-agent pictures, due to how its thin air allows more long balls. However, the Rockies have had a lot of luck drawing outstanding relievers this winter.

Aside from signing Davis to a three-year deal, they also inked contracts with Jake McGee and Brian Shaw. Both deals are worth three years and $27 million. This brings the total value of Colorado’s free-agent bullpen signings to $106 million.

Add in salaries for Adam Ottavino, Mike Dunn, and Chris Rusin, and Colorado has invested around $45 million into their bullpen for the 2018 season.

Davis Becomes Highest Paid Reliever in History

wade-davis-signs-rockiesChicago Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman previously held the record for the largest contract among relievers, with a five-year deal worth $17.2 million. But Davis will trump this because he’s earning $17.33 million over the next three seasons.

One can argue that he’s earned this status, given that he joined Chapman, Andrew Miller, Craig Kimbrel, and Kenley Jansen in a conversation for the game’s best relief pitcher.

Davis has been on the rise ever since 2014, when he transitioned from a struggling starter to a reliever in Kansas City. He came to the Royals in the Jake Shields deal, and quickly impressed with a 1.00 ERA in his first season there. Davis only got better the next season, posting a better ERA and not giving up a single home run.

He regressed slightly for the Cubs in 2017, surrendering six home runs in 58 2/3 innings. Nevertheless, Davis was still a highly valued member of the Cubs.

It’s a given that Chicago tried their best to re-sign their star reliever. But perhaps no team other than the Yankees would come even close to the contract that Colorado is giving him.

Colorado Looking to Improve Upon Last Year’s Wild Card Appearance

By most accounts, the Colorado Rockies had a pretty successful season. They finished with an 87-75 record, good for third in the NL West.

Despite only finishing third in their division, the Rockies earned one of the NL’s two Wild Card slots. They lost to division rival Arizona in this game, which ended their season.

Colorado featured an average bullpen last year, ranking 17th with a 4.51 ERA. But given the aggressive reliever signings that they’ve made this off-season, the Rockies stand to improve upon this mark in the 2018 campaign.

Davis will certainly go a long way towards helping them close out games.