Davis was named an All-Star in each of the last three seasons, most recently with Chicago and with the Royals in the two years prior.
Shortly after the report by Passan, MLB.com and Rockies.com writer Thomas Harding conveyed the record-breaking details of Davis’ deal with Colorado.
MLB source: Closer Wade Davis' contract with #Rockies: $16 MM in 2018, $18 MM in 2019, $17 MM in 2020, $1 MM buyout on $15 million vesting player option for 2021. Club has not announced the deal
— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) December 29, 2017
Davis’ guaranteed average of $17.33 million is the highest per-year salary for a relief pitcher, shattering the record held by Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who signed for an average of $15 million per year, and setting a new bar for closers in free agency. The Rockies will owe the Cubs a draft pick as compensation for the qualifying offer that the Cubs gave to Davis before he declined.
The 32-year-old right hander has 79 saves over the past four seasons including a career-high 32 in 2017 with the Chicago Cubs. Davis won a World Series with the Royals in 2015. His full stats are below, courtesy of Baseball Reference.
Davis will presumably fill the closer’s role in Bud Black‘s bullpen, a spot occupied by Greg Holland in 2017. Holland earned numerous accolades with Colorado last season, including National League Reliever of the Month for April and May and NL Comeback Player of the Year. He tied the Rockies’ single-season record for saves (41) and earned an All-Star bid himself. Holland is a free agent, and now that the Cubs have lost Davis to the Rockies, don’t be surprised if Holland becomes their top target.
Holland and Davis pitched together in Kansas City as part of the world championship team, with Davis serving primarily as the setup man for Holland. He assumed the closing duties in 2016 when Holland missed the season due to Tommy John surgery.
The move is the second major bullpen acquisition by Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich this offseason. He added Bryan Shaw, formerly of the Cleveland Indians, officially on Dec. 12.
The back-end of the Rockies’ bullpen — on paper, at least — looks to be the best on team history by a wide margin; Davis and set-up man Jake McGee have been All-Stars and Shaw could easily have been one over his last two seasons in Cleveland. If the trio performs as expected, the Rockies’ ability to effectively shorten the game could prove extremely beneficial to their young starters as they mature.