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Rockies and Wade Davis reach record-setting deal

Colorado will have one of the best bullpens in baseball

Wade Davis.

Wade Davis. | AP

The Rockies' bullpen buildup hit a new level Friday, when righty closer Wade Davis agreed to come aboard on a three-year, $52 million contract, a source told MLB.com. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan first reported the deal.

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The deal breaks down in salaries of $16 million in 2018, $18 million in '19 and $21 million in '20, with a $1 million buyout on a $15 million vesting player option, according to a Major League Baseball source. The Rockies have not confirmed or announced the contract.

Davis, 32, who earned 32 regular-season saves plus four in the postseason for the Cubs in 2017 and clinched the Royals' World Series win in '15 in Game 5 against the Mets, will replace another one-time Kansas City closer in Colorado. 

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Greg Holland earned 41 saves for the Rockies last season. The club attempted to re-sign Holland, but it stayed in contact with Davis and other free-agent options.

Like Holland, Davis comes to the Rockies with familiarity with pitching coach Steve Foster, who was a coach with the Royals when Davis came in a trade with the Rays.

Davis' signing comes on the heels of three-year, $27 million contracts with left-hander Jake McGee, who re-signed, and former Indians right-hander Bryan Shaw.

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The Rockies earned the second National League Wild Card in 2017 -- and made their first postseason appearance since '09 -- in large part because of a staunch bullpen. Relievers combined to convert 77 percent of their save opportunities -- tops in the NL and second in the Majors to the Indians at 78.7 percent, according to Stats, Inc.

The Rockies' bullpen also includes lefty Chris Rusin, who led the NL and was second in the Majors in relief innings pitched at 85 while putting up solid numbers (5-1, 2.65 ERA, two saves). Three other intriguing options are righties Adam Ottavino, who slumped to a 5.06 ERA in 2017 after posting a 2.67 ERA in '16; and Scott Oberg and Carlos Estevez, each of whom finished last season on the postseason roster after experiencing youthful ups and downs.

Davis comes with a reputation for being a mentor for younger relievers.

Carl Edwards Jr., now Davis' former teammate with the Cubs, said, "He doesn't give in. He's the same guy every day. He goes out there and does what he has to do. He's a really big part of the team, and the bullpen, especially. He comes in and there's no second thoughts, just go right after guys."

The club is passing on Holland, who remains a free agent, and lost righty Pat Neshek, who signed a two-year, $16.2 million contract with the Phillies, but they are moving ahead with Davis and Shaw in their stead.

During the 2017 regular season, Davis posted a 2.30 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings as the Cubs won the NL Central title. Davis' postseason highlight was his 2 1/3-inning save in the deciding Game 5 against the Nationals.

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Because Davis received a qualifying offer from the Cubs, the Rockies will lose their third-highest pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, currently No. 61 overall. And the Cubs would get a compensatory pick, currently No. 75. Other free-agent signings can affect the exact pick numbers involved.

The deal gives Davis the highest annual value for any reliever in the Majors at $17.33 million -- just above the $17.2 AAV that Aroldis Chapman received when he signed last winter with the Yankees.

According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, games finished are not a factor until 2020; his player option vests if he finished 30 games that season.

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By Thomas Harding | MLB.com 

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