Free Agent Matrix: Where's shutdown closer Wade Davis gonna go?
While the Hot Stove is a beautiful respite from the dreary world, it can be complicated sometimes. To help, we've created the Cespedes Family BBQ Free Agency Matrix to determine where this offseason's top free agents could end up.
The 2017 postseason unequivocally belonged to Jose Altuve, that much is clear. But this past October was dominated by talk of a grander trend taking root across baseball: bullpenning.
As starters continue to get pulled earlier and earlier, having a bullpen that can prevent runs is more important than ever. No relief pitcher has been better at run prevention over the last few years than Wade Davis.
Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2014, Davis has posted a 1.45 ERA, the single lowest in baseball amongst pitchers with at least 100 innings over that span. After another splendid season with the Cubs, Davis finds himself on the Free-Agent market as the best proven closer available.
Which teams are the best fit for Davis? Let's take a look:
The Dark Horses
Rangers: Texas had the third-worst bullpen ERA in the Majors last year behind only the Tigers and the Mets, so you have to think they'll look for some new arms. However, the Rangers may choose to use free agency to focus on some of their other pressing needs, like center field (*cough* Lorenzo Cain *cough*) or the rotation (*cough* Jake Arrieta *cough*).
D-backs: D-backs fans learned something very important in 2017: There is no thrill ride in baseball more heart-stopping than the Fernando Rodney Experience. But with the veteran closer/archer a free agent yet again, the D-backs could turn to Davis for bullpen assistance.
Nationals: All things considered, Davis and his heroic seven-out save in Game 5 of the NLDS was vital in helping the Cubs outlast the Nats. D.C. did a lot to sure up the 'pen at the Trade Deadline by acquiring bearded human Sean Doolittle and un-bearded human Ryan Madson from the A's. But, getting Davis would give a Nats team desperate for postseason success another true shutdown weapon at the back of the 'pen.
Cardinals: Former shutdown closer Trevor Rosenthal had an injury-riddled year and is now slated to miss all of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. St. Louis' closer for most of 2017, Seung Hwan Oh, is a free agent. The Cards snatched Dexter Fowler from their division rivals last offseason, could they swipe Davis from the Cubs this time around?
Angels: Rule No. 1 of life: If you have Mike Trout on your team, you have to go for it. While the Angels bullpen was really solid in 2017 they could use a dynamic arm at the back end if they really see themselves as postseason contenders next year.
Astros: The Astros won the World Series, but they were also one game away from not winning the World Series. If not for the heroics of Charlie "Ground Chuck" Morton and Brad Peacock, Houston's bullpen might have been the goat rather than the G.O.A.T. The Cubs won the 2016 World Series and then acquired Davis, so if the pattern is to continue, expect the 2017 World Series champs to pick up the unflappable closer.
Cubs: The Cubs' postseason story for 2017 was that Joe Maddon didn't really seem to trust anybody out of the bullpen except for Carl Edwards Jr. and Davis. Re-signing Davis is a likely option for the North Siders, who now face the uphill task of breaking a whopping one-year World Series drought.