USA Today Sports

What Wade Davis' deal means to Craig Kimbrel

Rob Bradford
December 29, 2017 - 12:31 pm

It's a good day for Craig Kimbrel.

The Red Sox closer didn't need to lift a finger Friday, but he sure found some positive news at the end of the calendar year. For that, he can thank Wade Davis.

According to multiple reports, the Rockies have agreed to terms with Davis on a three-year deal worth $52 million that includes a vesting option for a fourth season, pushing the potential value of the deal to $66 million. In all the annual average value will be for $17.33 million, a record for relievers. (The option for 2021 will vest if Davis finishes 30 games in 2020.)

So, why should Kimbrel care? Well, the Sox' reliever is eligible to become a free agent after the 2018 season, and, if he stays healthy and productive, will easily set a new high-water mark for relief pitchers' contracts. Davis now deserves a tip of the chapeau for this.

Let's start with this -- Kimbrel turns 30 on May 28, while Davis became a 32-year-old on Sept. 7. Another important thing to consider is that while the former Royals closer has tossed a total of 14,806 regular season pitches, the Sox closer stands at just 7,811. (In case you forgot, Davis was a starter for his first three, full major league seasons.)

Make no mistake about it, Davis is one of the most dominant closers in the game, having totaled a 2.30 ERA with 30 saves in his only season with Chicago. But there are some red flags. He was sidelined with a forearm strain in 2016, and did see somewhat a velocity dip last year.

And here's the most important reality: Kimbrel has kept up with Davis' dominance.

Here are their totals over the past three years ...

Kimbrel: 105 saves, 91.3 save percentage, .159 batting average against, 2.38 ERA.

Davis: 76 saves, 93.6 save percentage, .176 batting average against, 1.65 ERA.

This will be Kimbrel's big chance for the big contract, having signed a four-year, $42 million extension, with a $13 million option for 2018 (which was picked up), in 2014 with the Braves. He won't, however, be without competition for those relieving dollars after next season, with Kelvin Herrera, David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Zach Britton and Andrew Miller also eligible to hit the open market.

Davis has set the stage. Get ready for the idea of Craig Kimbrel, $100 million man.

 

 

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