Considering they are coming off a World Series Championship, it comes as no surprise that the Chicago Cubs are a team with very few holes. They have a tremendous pitching staff, with the likes of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks forming the heart of the rotation. On offense, the team is loaded with extremely good young talent. Kris Bryant now owns an NL MVP award. Anthony Rizzo is one of the best first basemen in all of baseball. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.
But the team does have one weakness, and that comes in the form of their bullpen. It was evident during the World Series, Aroldis Chapman was the only man that manager Joe Maddon had any faith in. Chapman was consistently used for multiple innings at the end of the series, even when it was not necessary. And upon completion of the series when free agency opened up, Chapman became a free agent.
Now the Cubs could simply go out a re-sign Chapman if they really wanted to. But even in a loaded relief market, Chapman is going to demand a record-breaking contract. With no qualifying offer compensation attached to his name, Chapman is very likely to become the richest closer in the history of baseball. With so many young players the Cubs are going to have to pay in the coming years, they would be wise to let Chapman walk and turn to an alternate option to fill their closer’s role in 2017.
As I mentioned above, the free agent market is flush with relief talent. So the Cubs could theoretically turn to the likes of Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon or Greg Holland if they wished. But Kenley is going to demand a mega deal as well. Melancon is extremely talented and won’t cost as much, but will still cost a pretty penny. And Holland did not pitch in 2016, making him a bit of a question still. With all that said, the Cubs best option is not a free agent, but a guy they could acquire via trade. His name: Wade Davis, closer for the Kansas City Royals.
Davis provides a dominant arm to close out games, with a much smaller financial commitment for the Cubbies. The Royals recently picked up Davis’ club option for 2017, which will see the 31-year-old righty earn 10 million dollars for the season. That is an annual salary that will certainly be cheaper than Chapman and Kenley and probably Melancon as well. So right off the bat, Davis provides the team with some extra flexibility.
He also brings a dominant arm that is capable of being one of the best closers in baseball. Despite struggling with elbow and forearm issues in 2016 that saw him spent some time on the DL, Davis still posted solid numbers for the campaign. He saved 27 of 30 games, had a 1.87 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and struck out 47 men in 43 and a third innings. With a full offseason to heal up completely, Davis should be entering 2017 fully healthy. One would expect he would be back to the guy who was totally lights out at the end of the 2015 season.
With the Cubs poised to be a playoff team for seasons to come, having someone who knows how to pitch in the postseason is also crucial. Davis has not only been in a handful of postseasons, but he has been extremely successful in baseball’s second season. He also has his handful of experience pitching in the World Series, as he has been a part of two World Series teams in Kansas City.
On a whole, Davis has pitched 32 and a third innings in four different seasons worth of postseason play. He has struck out 46 men over those innings while posting a 0.84 ERA. In the 2015 playoffs, when the Royals won it all, Davis went 10 and two-thirds without allowing a single run. He has thrown nine career innings in the World Series, all without allowing a run as well. So it is pretty clear, he has the resume a team looks for when looking for a closer who can handle the playoffs. Davis has been an absolute stud in the postseason and given he is still in the low 30’s in regards to his age, there is no reason to expect any type of drop-offs.
With his current deal, Davis is only on a one-year deal and is set to become a free agent after 2017. So this would allow the Cubs to take a few routes. They could play the year out and let Davis test free agency next winter. If the team feels they have someone in their system that they can groom this season, they could then proceed to let Davis walk in 2018 and collect the draft pick compensation he could bring if he was extended a qualifying offer.
Or the team could negotiate with him this winter or during the season. He would likely end up netting a deal very similar to what Melancon will earn this winter. So if they end up striking a deal, they would essentially get a closer for cheaper this season, then for the same amount they would pay Melancon over the course of the next three or four seasons. They would get Davis in the years before he starts to fade, and he would easily hold down the end of the pen until he is roughly 35 in this particular scenario.
Picking Davis’ name is not at random either. The Royals find themselves in a tough spot this winter, and following a down season, the club will be looking to shake a few things up. Davis is said to be available, which is very understandable given his contract and the fact that the team could easily slide Kelvin Herrera into the closer’s role. The team has a ton of players set to enter free agency next winter and could use some young controllable players. A deal that saw Davis go to Chicago for someone like Jorge Soler is certainly a realistic possibility.
So hey Chicago what do you say? Would you like to see the Cubs acquire Wade Davis from the Kansas City Royals to become their closer? Tell us in the comments!