March 24: The D-backs have announced the signing. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, Arizona placed right-hander J.B. Bukauskas on the 60-day injured list. Bukauskas suffered a Grade 2 teres major strain earlier this week and is expected to be sidelined for “months” with the injury.
March 22, 10:54am: Davies is guaranteed $1.75MM on the deal, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. He’ll earn a $1.5MM base salary and is also guaranteed at least a $250K buyout on next year’s option. The contract allows him to earn an additional $2.5MM based on his number of games started. The 2023 option is a mutual option, Heyman reports.
8:58am: The D-backs have reached a one-year agreement with free-agent righty Zach Davies, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). There’s also a 2023 option on the contract. Davies, a client of the Boras Corporation, can earn up to $4.5MM this year, per Heyman. Robert Murray of FanSided first tweeted that the two sides were close to a deal.
Davies, who turned 29 last month, was one of the younger free-agent starters on the market but also hit free agency in need of a rebound campaign after a lackluster 2021 showing with the Cubs. Acquired from San Diego in Chicago’s salary dump of Yu Darvish, Davies made 32 starts and covered 148 innings but did so while limping to a career-worst 5.78 ERA. Among the 129 pitchers with at least 100 innings last year, Davies’ 17.1% strikeout rate ranked 116th, while his 11.2% walk rate was the sixth-highest mark in that same set.
Just a year prior, during the shortened 2020 campaign, Davies had the finest season of his career. Obviously it wasn’t a full slate of 30-plus starts, but Davies nevertheless pitched 69 1/3 innings over a dozen appearances and turned in an outstanding 2.73 ERA with vastly superior strikeout (22.8%) and walk (6.9%) rates to those that he displayed in his lone year with the Cubs.
Davies has never missed bats at that 2020 level in any other season, which perhaps makes it something of a small-sample anomaly, but it should also be noted that he’s never struggled with his command like he did in 2021. To the contrary, prior to this past season’s surprising uptick in free passes, Davies offset his pedestrian strikeout rates and lack of velocity with strong command of the zone. From 2016-20, he walked just 6.7% of his opponents — a mark that tied him for 48th among 181 qualified pitchers.
In all likelihood, Davies’ true performance level lies somewhere between the extremes he posted in 2020 and 2021. He’s worked to a career 4.14 ERA with a 17.3% strikeout rate, a 7.8% walk rate and a 45.3% grounder rate in 831 2/3 innings between Milwaukee, San Diego and Chicago. Davies doesn’t miss many bats, given that his arsenal is headlined by a sinker that averages 88.2 mph, but he’s better than average when it comes to inducing weak contact. Outside of 2021, he hasn’t been particularly homer-prone in his career, either.
Arizona’s rotation is currently projected to include Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver, Merrill Kelly and perhaps non-roster invitee Dan Straily, who signed a minor league deal during the lockout after a solid two-year run in the Korea Baseball Organization. Gallen, however, is nursing some shoulder troubles at the moment, and Weaver has battled his own share of injury problems in recent years. Both Weaver and Kelly have also garnered trade interest at various points, though there’s no current indication the Snakes are weighing a move involving any member of their staff.
The signing of Davies could push Straily to a long-relief role or perhaps even to Triple-A Reno to begin the season, but teams are going to be cautious with their starters early in the season following a truncated Spring Training that did not give pitchers a full ramp-up period. It’s likely that there will be innings to go around for all six of those rotation candidates — to say nothing of upper-minors options like Tyler Gilbert, Corbin Martin, Humberto Mejia and Humberto Castellanos.
$2.5 less than Lyles. There really is an O’s tax.
No, it just means you have to pay for innings, which Lyles provides. Jordan helps the whole staff.
One guy has had an era+ over 100 5 of 7 years though.
something tells me this means Gallen’s not going to be ready for Opening Day.
Nice pick up. He has done seemingly very well vs NL west clubs, especially the Dodgers.
I agree Ha. Very good 4-5 starter for years. I was a big fan of his with Brewers. I was envisioning Crew trading one of there top 4 starters in a blockbuster and bringing Zach back as our 5th. Good luck to him in AZ.
This guy was so bad for the Cubs that they couldn’t get anybody for him during their fire sale.
Must have been a secret agent for the Brewers.
Nope, cubs are too cheap. Davies is better than their 5th guy now.
That said, it’s the diamondbacks. Likely a last place team, signing a guy that’s historically pitched well against good teams in the nl west.
Good deal for AZ
I agree this is a great deal for both AZ and Davies. But dont see how it has anything to do with the Cubs being cheap. They have handed out several of these types of deals this offseason. Right now they are looking at Alec Mills being their 5th starter. At some point you have to let these guys pitch and see what they have.
I’ll disagree on Mills being tabbed as their fifth starter, I think Steele has the inside edge and Thompson after him.
With Alzolay down, Mills will probably be the fifth starter, making Steele the fourth after Hendricks, Stroman, Miley.
I am guessing Smyly 4th and a massive rotation for the 5th spot. Mills, Steele, killian, brault etc
He had a really bad last year. He was probably trending towards a pretty nice pay day too. I hope he bounces back.
“I think Steele has the inside edge and Thompson after him.” Sure, thats fair. It kind of proves my over arching point in that they need to get some of these guys out there to see what they can do.
As always, we await developments.
Ha! You’re right Donny. With brewers he was good. Used up his good years and then orchestrated him to the Cubs last year.
I like everything the Cubs have done for about a year now, but I am surprised they didn’t move him at the trade deadline. He still had a 4.39/4.67 ERA/FIP. They should’ve been able to get something for him.
Have Davies’ autograph from when he was a Friar in 2020. Solid pickup by The Snakes.
Davies was the Padres 2nd best SP in 2020, hard to believe he could be signed so cheaply at age 29
I agree Brew88.
Cheap insurance for that amount. We needed his arm on 2021
If you look at the batting practice he threw half the time with the Cubs in 2021, you’d see why.
He was bad last year, even factoring in Wrigley. Sure made Preller look good. Maybe that was an aberation though, he’s been solid during his career
Ghost of hermanfranks
Guy like Davies needs a solid d behind him, and park factor home park. Bwebb wouldn’t of won of the cy without the middle d he had.
awesome name btw….and spot on with the defense. Davies needs to pitch in big ball parks, he would have been great in Oakland.
Davies going home. Solid value signing. Snakes should have a few pieces to move at the deadline for their inevitable push for last place.
Rockies will give em a nice challenge for that race to the bottom
Ghost of hermanfranks
well, there’s a lot to like about Davies, Its not a bad pick up, but wake me up when they get an Ace and why Hazen isn’t manuerving for one will be his downfall. Gallen is solid 2, a one if he’s stays healthy. Baumganer is just a 5 inning 6 inning guy now,so a great 3. Peralta looks movable right now, and if back remains healthy he will have a good year. Sneaky guy is Beer, great everything at the plate, but has some bad looking knee structure but he’s ss potential.
It’s a great pickup for the price. Doesn’t take the ball deep into games but era+ of 104 for career even coming off his worst year. Ahmed a terrific defender at short should help him.
AZ bottom feeding never stops.
Wouldn’t Bryce Jarvis or Ryne Nelson be better?
If you have Davies or Mills in your rotation it’s just admitting you’re throwing in the towel before the season starts. To have both would of been like surrendering the battle before it even started.
Davies has been pretty solid throughout his career. I’m surprised it took this long for someone to sign him
If you think his performance with the Cubs last year was “solid” I hate to see what mediocre will look like.
Davies was an underrated free agent starter. He gave up 4 runs or less in 23 of his 32 starts. 19 of those 24 starts were 3 runs or less. 16 of his 32 starts he gave up 2 runs or fewer. 5 of his starts he pitched 6+ innings and gave up 0 runs
The problem is, when he’s off, it’s really bad. He gives up 5+ runs. It bloats his ERA
Davies is a solid pitcher most of the time
I think this is a solid take. MD the other problem when he would give up the 5+ runs in a game, those were the time he only last 1-2 innings. Those games hurt a lot.
I remember watching one game and he had something like 70 pitches half way through the second inning or something crazy like. Couldn’t hit the strike one so batters just sat back and waited for him to be forced to throw it down the middle.
Why are contending clubs not all over this guy? He ends up signing a cheap deal with a potential worst in division team? I mean this guy isn’t going to win any Cy Young awards but are teams completely ignoring the need for pitching depth?
It’s like these teams are still so obsessed with having an entire staff that throws 96+ on the gun. Have fun watching all of them hit the IL.