Position: Reliever / Closer
Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Born: Sept. 7, 1985 (Age 32)
2017 Stats: 2.30 ERA, 1.142 WHIP, 12.1 K9, 32 Saves
Heading into the 2017-18 off-season, the New York Mets have several glaring needs to shore up their roster to make it back to the postseason. With the Mets’ team bullpen ranking 29th in baseball in ERA (4.82), walks-per-nine (4.25), and WHIP (1.49), the front office needs to make stabilizing the pen a top priority this off-season.
The relief market features a plethora of intriguing arms, some considered a pipe dream by fans who are dismayed by the early indications that payroll won’t be near the $155 million Opening Day mark . However, when considering all the potential free agents on the market, it’s prudent to include those who many feel have no chance of signing with the team. Overestimating the market, back-loading contracts, shedding payroll, or, ownership deciding to go all in for a particular player could very well happen if one is deemed a potential missing piece to this jumbled puzzle that is the New York Mets.
Right-hander Wade Davis fits that billing.
Davis, 32, spent the ’17 season with the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, his first season playing in the National League. The transition was seamless as he appeared in 59 games, posting a 2.30 ERA over 58.2 innings pitched. Davis converted 32 saves before blowing his one and only on September 23 against the Milwaukee Brewers, and broke the Cubs’ franchise consecutive saves mark, bypassing Ryan Dempster who held it with 26. Davis posted the 4th best Wins Probability Added in the National League (3.34) behind only Kenley Jansen, Corey Knebel, and Brad Hand. While walks were up for Davis this year, (11.6 BB%), his strikeout totals were still holding strong at 32.6 K% (2nd highest of his career).
His swinging strike percentage was a career best 15.4% this past season, and batters made contact on just 67.5% of all Davis’ pitches, good for 17th best among all relievers in the majors. While his average four-seam fastball saw a slight decrease in velocity from 2016 to ’17 (95.35 to 94.71), he utilized his sinker, cutter, and curveball more and generated the 8th best soft hit percentage among relievers (28.0%).
For his career, Davis has continuously posted strong splits against both right and left handed batters. In ’17, Davis posted fantastic numbers against lefties: .156/.264/.229 with a 2.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His numbers against righties were solid: .211/.313/.377, though, the five homers he allowed to right-handed hitters made the difference in the stark slugging percentage differences.
Davis is no stranger to high stake games, as he’s pitched in 23 games in the postseason (not including this postseason) with a career ERA of 0.84 which ranks third best all-time behind only Mariano Rivera and Harry Brecheen. Davis was a huge factor for the World Series champion Kansas City Royals in 2015, making eight appearances out of the pen, a perfect four-for-four in save opportunities, with 18 strikeouts in 10.2 innings pitched. Davis was on the mound at Citi Field in Game 5 of the World Series, working around a two-out walk to strikeout the side to give the Royals their first championship since 1985.
You might also recall that GM Sandy Alderson checked in with the Royals during the Winter Meetings last year in Maryland, prior to the team shipping Davis to the Cubs for Jorge Soler. It was reported that the Royals were asking for the team’s top prospect in shortstop Amed Rosario in return, too steep of an asking price for a rental player. However, the conversations that took place at least indicate that Alderson has had interest in Davis in the past, which could help spark discussions with the free agent to be in the offseason.
Davis is entering the off-season as the premier reliever on the market, and can very well add to his already brilliant resume with another strong display in this year’s playoffs. A comparable contract that Davis’ team should look to is what the San Francisco Giants gave right-hander Mark Melancon last season, four-years, $62 million. Melancon was entering his age-32 season, so Davis will be a year older to start the ’18 season. Prior to the ’17 season, Melancon posted a career 2.60 ERA in 444 games, with a 151 ERA+, 8.2 K/9, and 1.036 WHIP, spending his entire career as a reliever. Just using Davis’ stats since converting to the pen, he owns a 1.65 ERA in 305 games, with a 11.4 K/9, and a 0.976 WHIP. With these numbers in mind, I expect Davis to land a four-year deal in the $60-70 million range this offseason.
A no-brainer when considering the player the Mets would be adding, and how important upgrading their overworked and beleaguered bullpen is. However, the price tag might very well deter the team from making a run at Davis, though, they need to at least monitor his situation in the offseason. Adding Davis along with AJ Ramos, Jeurys Familia, and Jerry Blevins would set the Mets up with one of the best bullpens in baseball, continuing the trend of building dominant, shutdown pens in order to compete in today’s baseball landscape.