Wade Davis was relatively effective in his first year in Colorado as he set the team record while leading the league in saves with 43. Unfortunately, he was so bad in 2019 (8.65 ERA) that he obliterated all his positive value.
Davis has accumulated a grand total of -0.2 WAR for the low, low price of $34M. What’s more, Davis is still owed $17M for next year, with a $15M mutual option for 2021. Interestingly, that option vests if Davis finishes 30 or more games. This may motivate the Rox to keep the former closer in the setup role behind Scott Oberg, who was clearly the better pitcher in 2019.
When they signed Bryan Shaw after the 2017 season, the Rockies thought that they were getting a reliable, battle-tested, reliever who could help anchor the perpetually battered Colorado bullpen.
What they got was two years of below-replacement performance at above-market prices. Shaw has a cumulative 5.61 ERA (89 ERA+) over 131 games pitched.
Shaw’s 2019 wasn’t as bad as his 2018. However, it wasn’t good enough to make his now-$34M contract seem like a good idea. Maybe at a still-viable 32 years of age, the Rox will still be able to extract some value from Shaw. Let’s hope so because, like Desmond and Davis, he’s Colorado’s for a while yet.
You can see a parallel universe where Bryan Shaw, Wade Davis, and Mike Dunn all live up to the promise that they had coming in. Dunn would be the top lefty in a lock-down bullpen that helps the Rockies go deeper in the playoffs in 2017 and 2018 and maybe stay afloat through a tough 2019. But that’s not how things went in this reality.
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After three years, $21M, and 0.0 WAR, Dunn was finally released. He’d put up a 9.00 ERA in 17 injury-riddled innings in 2018, then managed only a 7.13 ERA in 17.2 innings in 2019.
Dunn was designated for assignment this June after a four-run meltdown against the Padres. The Rockies ultimately ended up paying a $1M buyout to get out of the rest of his contract, and there’s nothing that says “this was a mistake” like paying someone to NOT play for your team.