Rockies agree to 3-year deal with closer Wade Davis

Wade Davis, pictured in action for the Chicago Cubs. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

DENVER — The Colorado Rockies added a significant piece to what’s becoming a formidable and high-priced bullpen by agreeing to a three-year, $52 million contract with All-Star reliever Wade Davis.

His deal includes a fourth-year player option that would become guaranteed should Davis finish 30 games in 2020, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms of the deal have not been released. The team officially announced the deal Friday afternoon.

A 32-year-old right-hander, Davis will be in line to close out games for a Colorado team that returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009. The Rockies’ relievers played a big role in 2017 by going 24-19 with a 4.40 ERA. Their 549 strikeouts over 550 2/3 relief innings were the second-most in franchise history.

General manager Jeff Bridich is sticking to his blueprint of fortifying the bullpen. A few weeks ago, the Rockies finalized $27 million, three-year contracts with right-hander Bryan Shaw and lefty Jake McGee, who’s been with Colorado the past two seasons. The team also is set to return righty Adam Ottavino and lefty Mike Dunn.

It has all the makings of a shut-down bullpen.

"We’ll see," Bridich said. "There’s a lot of time in between now and when that’s determined. There’s a foundation that’s been set for a deep pen as long as guys stay healthy and pitch to their capabilities."

Davis has flourished since stepping into a full-time reliever’s role in 2014. He leads all qualified major league relievers with a 1.45 ERA and has allowed a .169 opponent batting average. In 2015, Davis was a pivotal part of a bullpen that helped guide the Kansas City Royals to a World Series title.

Last season, Davis had a 2.30 ERA and 32 saves for the Chicago Cubs after being acquired in a trade from Kansas City.

"There’s a slow heartbeat in pressure situations," Bridich said of Davis. "There’s that inner belief in himself in those situations. Just a competitor. A very good competitor — a guy who I think is taken very seriously when he comes into the game."

Newly signed Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta certainly feels the Rockies just added a valuable component. He wrote on Twitter: "Championships are won with team chemistry, defence and PITCHING!!! We just got a step closer! Is it OpeningDay yet????"

The move reunites Davis with pitching coach Steve Foster, who came to Colorado from Kansas City. What’s more, this is the second straight season that Foster’s played a hand in bringing back a closer he’s had ties with in Kansas City. Last season, the Rockies relied on Greg Holland as he finished with 41 saves after missing 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Holland declined to exercise his $15 million player option to stay in the Mile High City.

Bridich said the team had its eye on several closers — including Holland — but Davis became a priority. The deal with Davis was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

"In a lot of research that we were doing, it was for good reason he was at the top of the list," Bridich explained. "There’s a lot to like. His track record, especially as a reliever, speaks for itself. His experience pitching in important games, playoff games, just the way he does it. … He’s earned a lot of trust over the course of his career as a reliever, to be able to come into games at the end and help the team win a game. That’s a big thing for teams with playoff aspirations."

To clear a roster spot, Colorado announced that right-hander Shane Carle has been designated for assignment. He made his major League debut on April 14 at San Francisco. Carle had a 6.75 ERA in three appearances with the Rockies.

Bridich addressed several other topics:

— The Rockies will keep close tabs on free agents, including longtime Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and the first base market.

— A discussion with third baseman Nolan Arenado about a possible long-term deal figures to take place when "it’s appropriate."

— The Rockies appear done adding arms to their bullpen.

"I guess you can never say never," Bridich said.

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