The Rockies are designating reliever Wade Davis for assignment, per Nick Groke of the Athletic (via Twitter). This brings to an end a three-year tenure in Denver that was an overwhelming disappointment.
Davis entered free agency on the heels of a four-year run as one of the sport’s most dominant late-inning arms. Between 2014-17, he combined for 241.1 innings of 1.45 ERA/2.23 FIP ball for the Royals and Cubs. He was a vital piece of Kansas City’s 2015 World Series winner.
The Rockies surely envisioned much of the same when they embarked on a bullpen-focused spending spree in the 2017-18 offseason. Colorado brought in Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee on three-year, $27MM deals before finishing with a flourish, inking Davis to a $52MM guarantee over the same term.
There were some warning signs the 32-year-old Davis wasn’t going to be able to sustain his prior levels of production. His walk rate spiked to a lofty 11.6% in his platform season, while his 94.4MPH fastball that year was down a tick from his unhittable peak with the Royals.
That said, it would’ve been impossible to predict Davis’ career going off the rails to the extent it has. His first season as a Rockie was actually solid, as he managed a 4.13 ERA in 65.1 innings. That was a far cry from his prime years, although it was still solidly better than average when adjusting for the hitter-friendly environs of Coors Field.
Last season, though, proved to be an unmitigated disaster. Davis pitched to an 8.65 ERA in 42.2 innings, with a massive spike in walk rate (to 14.1%) and a precipitous drop in strikeout rate (to 20.4%). His attempt at a 2020 bounceback never really got off the ground. He only got into five games, with a shoulder strain knocking him out of action for more than a month. Davis’ fate was sealed after he got tagged for four runs on four hits in just two-thirds of an inning in yesterday’s loss to the Dodgers.
Davis will surely clear waivers, since any claiming team would be on the hook for the remainder of his contract. It’s possible he tries to latch on with another club for the season’s final week, but he’d be ineligible for another team’s postseason roster at this point. To that end, Davis will probably turn his attention to 2021. After back-to-back lost seasons, the 35-year-old may have to settle for minor-league opportunities this offseason.