MLB Hot Stove: Wade Davis rumors heating up

The Kansas City Royals could have no trouble moving All-Star closer Wade Davis, with the reliever market heating up.

With the free-agent closer market expected to pop now that Mark Melancon has elected to sign with the San Francisco Giants, another reliever to keep an eye on is Wade Davis of the Kansas City Royals. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports is reporting heavy interest around the league with respect to Davis. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also expected Davis to be moved before Opening Day.

This years crop of free agents offered one of the deepest closer classes in recent memory. Melancon was the first to sign, but will be followed closely by Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman. The Miami Marlins have reportedly made it a priority to sign one of the remaining closers, and Chapman is a strong fit to appeal to the Cuban community of the city. If Chapman goes quickly, expect Jansen to follow suit. Joel Sherman of the NY Post reports that Melancon’s deal is for four years and $62 million, shattering the previous record for a closer by $12 million. The record will be a short-lived one, with Chapman and Jansen expected to approach $90 million over five years.

With only three top-notch closers on the market this winter, and at least five teams needing one, Davis is an extremely attractive option. The Washington Nationals had interest in re-signing Melancon, and still need a closer for next season. The New York Yankees have been open to a reunion with Chapman, who spent the first part of last season in the Bronx. The Chicago Cubs are prepared to move on from Chapman, but still need a ninth-inning option unless they are comfortable turning the ball back over to Hector Rondon.

Davis is on one of the best three-year runs by a reliever in MLB history. Since 2014, he has logged 182.2 innings with a 1.18 ERA. It is nearly impossible to homer off him, and he did not allow a single home run in 2014 and 2016. Davis relies almost exclusively on his heavy fourseam fastball, rarely throwing anything else, but the league still cannot figure him out.

The All-Star closer is signed for one more year at a cost of $10 million, which will look like a considerable bargain after the contracts are finalized for Melancon, Chapman, and Jansen. The Royals are entering a rebuilding phase, with impending free agencies for Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer to worry about. Now is the time to sell Davis at his maximum value. The Cubs stand out right now given their overflowing farm system and a void at closer.

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