Wade Davis

Trade Wade

The Kansas City Royals should trade Wade Davis. That’s not that controversial, but it’s the truth. Wade Davis has been one of the premier relievers in all of baseball since being shifted to the bullpen late in the 2013 season. Since then, he’s made 192 appearances, pitched 192.1 innings, allowed 107 hits, struck out 241 and walked 63. His ERA in that time is 1.17. He’s a beast. Any team Wade Davis is relieving for is instantly better for him being there.

But yeah, trade him.

Here’s something you hear basically every day during the baseball season. Relievers are volatile. Even cyborg relievers fall into that category. There are very few exceptions. Davis may end up being one of those exceptions, but he missed time in 2016 with two stints on the disabled list to go along with his highest ERA since he moved to the bullpen full time. Of course, that ERA was just 1.87, but the fact remains. His DRA was 3.73. He didn’t look as unhittable as his strikeouts per nine dropped to below 10 and he walked more than he had since he was a starter. For what it’s worth, his FIP was 2.29 in both 2015 and 2016, so that might be something to at least consider here as well regarding his future performance.

Throw in that his fastball velocity was down more than a mile per hour (still at 95.35 MPH on average) and it sure looks like a 31-year old pitcher who was as dependable as anyone over the two magical seasons for the Royals might be hitting a bit of a decline.

So trade him.

Davis has an option in 2017 for $10 million that was part of the contract he signed with the Rays quite some time ago. The Royals will exercise that option because Davis is still quite good. Truthfully, $10 million for an ace reliever for one season is actually a pretty reasonable price. When you see the contracts guys like Kenely Jansen and Aroldis Chapman and maybe even Mark Melancon are going to get, that will become even more obvious.

Still, though. Trade him.

The Royals bullpen depth was an issue in 2016, as we saw them break down toward the end of the season. It was clear there was some fatigue in most of the unit and Kelvin Herrera definitely looked like he needed some time off. Joakim Soria was brought in to add to the depth, but he just added to the problem. So why trade a pitcher with only 43.1 innings on his arm in 2016?

There are multiple reasons. Let’s start internally. From the closer’s role, he can be replaced. While Herrera did look run down toward the end of the season, he also showed improvement in both his strikeout rate and his walk rate. He was essentially as unhittable as he’d been in previous seasons, so while his 2.75 ERA was good but not great, everything else looked like he was heading in the right direction. He allowed less than a base runner per inning but had the second highest ERA of his career. If I had to bet, I’d say the ERA will catch up with the production.

In addition, the Royals uncovered a gem who could be their version of Andrew Miller next season in Matt Strahm. I don’t know if Strahm can start in the big leagues, but I think he deserves a shot. I also think he’s best served as an apprentice in the bullpen in 2017. I truly believe that helps both his development and the team for next season. Strahm was phenomenal in the big leagues, posting a 1.23 ERA and allowing 13 hits in 22 innings. The walks were a little high, but he proved he could get the strikeout when he needs it.

And then here’s the real ace in the hole. The Royals need to bring Greg Holland back. No, he’s no guarantee, but when Opening Day comes around in April, he will be a full 18 months removed from Tommy John surgery. Most will tell you that guys can pitch and pitch well after a year, but 18 months is when the good stuff comes. Sure, having surgery in October killed his 2016 season, but I think it could make his 2017 even better than anyone could hope for. I know there’s interest in a reunion on all sides, so the Royals should make this happen.

I also believe they should find a way to bring Luke Hochevar back, whether it’s by both sides exercising the $7 million mutual option (it does make some sense for each side) or through a new two-year deal. Hoch is more of a question given his surgery, but before getting hurt and trying to pitch through it, Hochevar was having an impressive season. Through May, he had 26 strikeouts with just four walks in 22.1 innings and had a 2.82 ERA. He was fantastic. And he’d be the fourth option.

And that’s not even to mention the possibility of Peter Moylan returning, Joakim Soria finding his slider again to find success again and some of the other big arms in the Royals system finding their way to a prominent bullpen role. Even without Davis, the Royals bullpen can find depth. Dayton Moore has been adept at this, even before the team became competitive. No, they weren’t as good as the 2013-2015 bullpen, but depth is out there and I trust this regime to find it.

Externally, trading Davis can really help to fill any of the number of other holes on the 2017 team. The most pressing one, to me, is starting pitcher. The way I see it, as many as 10 or 11 teams will be motivated to try to land one of the big fish out there. But you might remember I only named three names among free agents, and Davis, to me, is definitively better than one of them (Melancon). If they can strike a deal with the Nationals for Reynaldo Lopez or the Dodgers for Jose De Leon or any one of the other teams looking to add one of the best relievers in baseball in exchange for a top end starting pitching prospect, I think the Royals have to do it. It could help them in both 2017 and beyond. Imagine a rotation with the return for Davis along with Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Strahm after a year in the bullpen. That could be deadly.

Plus, it benefits them on the payroll side too, as they would be able to rid themselves of a $10 million commitment. They could reinvest that in two pitchers (Holland and Hochevar) who probably won’t be as good as Davis but can at least provide great value to the bullpen and maybe have some left over to be able to dabble on the free agent market for an offensive piece, whether that’s bringing back Kendrys Morales or looking to other options like maybe Dexter Fowler or someone of that ilk.

I don’t want to see Wade Davis pitching in another uniform, but I also want to see the Royals succeed. I think their best bet for long term success without putting a huge dent in the 2017 team is to trade Wade. So, yep. It’s time to trade the cyborg.

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4 comments on “Trade Wade”


The thought of trading Davis rocks me to my core, but you’re right. Don’t know if it will happen though, as Moore has a proud tradition of holding on to relievers a little too long.

David Lesky

He absolutely does. And yet for some reason, I feel like there’s actually a real chance this happens. Maybe it’s because of all the rumors at the deadline about it.


Bad idea…your structure is maintained by core personnel. That’s the bullpen core, he is a leader and mentor. Giving up core players, you are starting from scratch, or all over again. Good luck with that Chefs mentality.


I’m in favor of trading Davis simply because I don’t think he’s healthy. I hate to go trading damaged goods, but I look for him to be on and off the DL and have lot of 30+ pitch saves. With that being said other teams are going to realize this and their won’t be much market for him. I would even say I’d have to think long and hard about paying him the $10 million option next year.

I would be open to bringing back Holland, but it’s long past time to move on from Hochevar. He’s pushing 10 years as a Royal but has really only been good for 2 months in 2013, 2 month in 2016, and October 2015. I do have to say that his good 2015 postseason make all the bad times from the 10 years worth while. Throw in that he is coming off injury, I don’t see a need to give him $7 million.

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