The Rays acknowledge that they took a significant risk when they invested $12.6MM in a pitcher who has appeared in just 35 big league games. Wade Davis signed for more guaranteed money than any pitcher in his service class (one-plus years), but he took on a different kind of risk.
Davis’ agent, B.B. Abbott, acknowledges that there’s a chance his client will earn millions less than he would have obtained by going year to year and hitting free agency after 2015. It could amount to a $6-8MM discount for the Rays, but Abbott says it's a worthwhile tradeoff for Davis, who gets guaranteed money and security.
"I don't think anyone can definitively tell you that it's the wrong deal or a bad deal or a good deal," Abbott told MLBTR. "It was just the right deal for Wade and the right deal for the team."
It's a contract that will allow Davis to enter free agency in time for a major free agent payday. Even if the Rays exercise their three team options, Davis will hit the open market as a 32-year-old with $35.1MM in his bank account. He was flattered that the Rays considered him worthy of such substantial investment after just one full season.
"It doesn’t seem to happen a whole lot in baseball, so it’s a huge compliment and something that I’m looking forward to," Davis said on a conference call earlier today.
The Rays made a similar investment in James Shields after the 2007 season and though 2010 was disappointing, he has put together three consecutive 200-inning seasons under his current contract. Shields was one of the main points of reference for the Davis deal, along with Brett Anderson, who had the record for one-plus pitchers ($12.5MM guarantee) until Davis signed. Chad Billingsley, who just signed an extension of his own, and Matt Garza were other comparable pitchers relevant to the negotiations between Davis, Abbott and the Rays.