It took much longer than anyone expected but the first major pitcher came off the free agent market on Friday. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported closing pitcher Wade Davis agreed to terms on a three-year, $52 million contract with the Colorado Rockies.
Colorado, who previously signed Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw previously in the offseason to bolster the backend of its bullpen, also included a $14 million vesting option for 2021 in the contract. Davis' new AAS of $17.33 million now makes him the highest paid relief pitcher in the history of baseball and gives Colorado one of the most expensive bullpens in the history of baseball, per Passan.
While it comes at a cost, the move makes sense for Colorado. Davis, 32, entered the offseason as the top closer on the free agent marked and would have cashed in wherever he landed given it's likely the last big contract of his career.
The 32-year-old pitched extremely well for the Chicago Cubs last year with a 2.30 ERA, 12.12 K/9, 3.29 SIERA and a career-best 15.4 swinging strike percentage.
Even as he dealt with concerns over his durability, Davis continued to show he remained one of the game's best relievers and converted 32 of 33 save opportunities in 2017.
While the numbers weren't quite as impressive as his run from '14-16, when Davis compiled a 1.15 ERA, 1.83 FIP, 0.15 HR/9 and 11.58 K/9, Davis still earned All Star honors and earned himself the chance to cash in during the offseason.
Now in Colorado, Davis will need to iron out some things with the move to the high altitudes. Last season, Davis finished with a 38.2 percent fly ball rate and 12 percent home run/fly ball rate, while his hard-hit rate rose from 22.7 percent in 2016 to 29.5 percent in 2017.
For fantasy owners, the move to Colorado is both good news and bad news for Davis' fantasy stock. On the positive end, he'll remain on a contender who will be in close games and give him plenty of save opportunities in the coming years.
On the negative end, Davis' ERA is likely to rise above 2.60 this season and more runs allowed plus a few additional blown saves could hurt some of his fantasy stock.
In the end, this isn't the ideal landing spot for Davis from a fantasy perspective, but it should still work out well for fantasy owners as his strikeouts and opportunities keep him as a top-five closing option.