All-Star Wade Davis is the best closer in a class with limited options — the scarcity could lead to a fierce bidding war.
After last year’s free-agent class set off a bonanza of new record-setting deals for closers with Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman all eclipsing the old record held by Jonathan Papelbon, the market gets a pause this year with a weaker crop of closers. Chicago Cubs All-Star Wade Davis leads the group and is followed by former teammate and All-Star Greg Holland. After those two, it’s a bunch of middle-relief guys with little to no closing experience.
Davis rebounded in 2017 after appearing in only 45 games in 2016 due to elbow trouble. He saved 32 games for the Cubs and had a 2.30 ERA in 58.2 innings while striking out 12.1 per nine and holding opponents to a .186/.290/.310 line. The .600 OPS Davis ceded to opposing hitters this year was the highest since he became a full-time reliever in 2014.
The right-hander was almost impossible to homer off during his epic run from 2014 to 2016 where he allowed just three bombs in 182.2 innings. Davis allowed six balls to leave the yard last season alone. Entering his age-32 season, it is fair to wonder if Davis is beginning to lose just a little nastiness on his stuff. The lack of elite closer options this year, combined with the higher number of teams that need to sign one, however, will make sure his value stays high.
5. Colorado Rockies
For at least one year, Greg Holland was the best closer in Colorado Rockies history. Rough patch in August aside, Holland pitched like an All-Star all year. That was more than enough for him to decline his player option for 2018 and seek a multi-year deal on the open market. The Rockies should make it a priority to re-sign him, but if not, their attention will have to focus on Wade Davis.
There are few types of pitchers who can be plugged into Coors Field and succeed without a huge drop in their numbers. Power fastballs and breaking balls are what it takes. It worked for Holland, and it would work for Davis if the Rockies are able to sign him. After making the playoffs for the first time since 2009, Colorado cannot afford a letdown in the hyper-competitive NL West. Los Angeles and Arizona are both set up to contend for years to come and the San Francisco Giants won’t be down for long.