DENVER -- The Rockies' bullpen buildup hit a new level on Friday, when closer Wade Davis agreed to come aboard on a three-year, $52 million contract.The deal breaks down in salaries of $16 million in 2018, $18 million in '19 and $17 million in '20, with a $1 million buyout
DENVER -- The Rockies' bullpen buildup hit a new level on Friday, when closer Wade Davis agreed to come aboard on a three-year, $52 million contract.
The deal breaks down in salaries of $16 million in 2018, $18 million in '19 and $17 million in '20, with a $1 million buyout on a $15 million vesting player option, according to a Major League Baseball source. The Rockies re-signed lefty setup man Jake McGee and signed righty setup man Bryan Shaw, formerly with the Indians, to three-year deals worth $27 million earlier this month.
General manager Jeff Bridich finished the offseason bullpen construction by landing Davis, 32, a top closer. Davis replaces former Royals teammate Greg Holland, who recorded a National League-leading 41 saves for the Rockies in 2017 and is a free agent.
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During the 2017 regular season, Davis saved 32 games and posted a 2.30 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings as the Cubs won the NL Central title. Davis' postseason highlight was his 2 1/3-inning save in the deciding NL Division Series Game 5 against the Nationals. The right-hander finished with four postseason saves. Davis was also on the mound for the Royals as they clinched the '15 World Series over the Mets.
"[He's] a guy who's taken very seriously when he comes into the game," Bridich said. "If you're the opposition and you see Wade Davis coming in, just like Greg Holland and other top closers, those guys are taken seriously. The other team knows that they have it in for them to try to win that game that night.
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"It's a big thing for a team with playoff aspirations, and hopefully it's a good thing for the organization for a number of years with Wade."
Bridich said Davis and Holland were among the free-agent options considered, and the club also looked at the trade market. The contract, which gives Davis the highest average annual value of any reliever (the Yankees' Albertin Chapman's five-year deal in 2016 gave him a $17.2 million AAV), quickly came together last week, Bridich said. According to the contract, if Davis finishes 30 games in '20, he can pick up a '21 option worth $15 million or accept a $1 million buyout.
Like Holland, Davis joins the Rockies with familiarity. Pitching coach Steve Foster was a coach with the Royals when Davis arrived in a trade with the Rays. Holland was Davis' predecessor as the Royals' closer.
To make room for Davis on a full 40-man Major League roster, the Rockies designated righty reliever Shane Carle for assignment. Carle, 26, debuted in the Majors in 2017 and posted a 6.75 ERA with no walks and four strikeouts in three big league appearances. He went 3-5 with a 5.37 ERA in 36 games at Triple-A Albuquerque. Carle originally joined the Rockies in a Nov. 11, 2014, trade with the Pirates for reliever Rob Scahill.
The Rockies earned the second NL Wild Card in 2017 -- and made their first postseason appearance since '09 -- in large part because of a staunch bullpen. Relievers combined to convert 77 percent of their save opportunities -- tops in the NL and second in the Majors to the Indians at 78.7 percent, according to Stats, Inc.
The Rockies passed on Holland and lost righty Pat Neshek, who signed a two-year, $16.25 million contract with the Phillies, but are moving ahead with Davis and Shaw in their stead. The Rockies can splurge on the bullpen because they have managed a solid starting rotation despite having just one starting pitcher -- righty Chad Bettis -- reach his arbitration years.
"The aggressiveness in the bullpen, especially this offseason, fits with a grander plan about our pitching, just adding the level of talent, the level of impact, and trying to do so in waves -- not just one guy here, one guy there," Bridich said.
The Rockies' bullpen also includes lefties Chris Rusin, who led the NL and was second in the Majors in relief innings pitched (85) while putting up solid numbers (5-1, 2.65 ERA, two saves), and Mike Dunn (5-1, 4.47 ERA), who led the team with 68 appearances. Three other intriguing options are righties Adam Ottavino, who slumped to a 5.06 ERA in 2017 after posting a 2.67 ERA in '16, and Scott Oberg and Carlos Estevez, each of whom finished last season on the postseason roster after experiencing youthful ups and downs.
Davis comes with a reputation for being a mentor to younger relievers, partly by being a solid example.
C.J. Edwards, Davis' former teammate with the Cubs, said, "He doesn't give in. He's the same guy every day. He goes out there and does what he has to do. He's a really big part of the team, and the bullpen, especially. He comes in and there's no second thoughts, just go right after guys."
Because Davis received a qualifying offer from the Cubs, the Rockies will lose their third-highest pick in the 2018 Draft, currently No. 61 overall. The Cubs will be awarded a compensatory pick, currently No. 75. Other free-agent signings can affect the exact pick numbers involved.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
One of the most talented relievers in baseball (1.45 ERA, 0.95 WHIP from 2014-17), Davis could compile more than 35 saves next season for a club that has a deep bullpen and a high-powered offense. But with fewer than 80 whiffs in each of the past three years and the added challenge of pitching home games at hitter-friendly Coors Field, the right-hander belongs in the second tier of closers for '18 fantasy drafts.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**.
Carrie Muskat contributed to this story.