Wade Davis has appeared in 35 big league games and today the Rays signed him to a deal that could pay him over $35MM. Davis gets a $12.6MM guarantee from an organization that will spend just $41MM on its entire roster this year, so Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman fully acknowledges he's taking a risk. But the Rays didn't want to pass up the opportunity to sign a core player long-term.
"I think the one thing that we’ve really demonstrated over the years is how important these investments are for our organization," Friedman said via conference call. "We’ve been aggressive at that core that we can keep in place for a number of years and hopefully sustain success in this division."
Friedman locked up current Rays Evan Longoria, James Shields and Ben Zobrist to similar club option-heavy deals to provide the team with flexibility. The since-departed Carlos Pena and Scott Kazmir also signed extensions with the Rays since Friedman took over baseball operations in 2006.
The Rays wanted to add Davis to the list of players they've signed long-term, partly because they like his ability and his character. However, talent and dedication don't eliminate the risk inherent in signing a rookie pitcher to a multiyear deal.
"There’s no question that the injury rate is much higher with a pitcher than a position players and that fairly intuitive," Friedman said. "That’s why it’s so important for us in the sense of how well we know our guys – what their makeup is, the work ethic, how driven they are and it’s something that Wade fits into very, very well on all those fronts."
There’s another reason the Rays signed Davis long-term, though it’s impossible to quantify. Friedman says multiyear deals allow players to focus entirely on baseball and not on the money they may or may not make through arbitration or free agency. Davis, who considered the deal carefully before signing, agrees.
"The biggest thing for me is to be able to relax and I think it’s like that with anybody when they’re able to relax on the baseball field and just go all out out there," Davis said.