Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in February 11 and there is a position battle that has many Colorado Rockies fans worried.
In spring training, relief pitchers Wade Davis and Scott Oberg will square off in a heated battle that will decide who will be the Colorado Rockies closer. These two are coming off completely opposite seasons in 2019.
After a solid season in 2018, where he led the National League and set a franchise record with 43 saves, Davis imploded last season with a 8.65 ERA with a 1-6 record and only 15 saves in 42.2 innings. This included a 11.10 ERA in 29 home games and a 13.50 ERA after the break. His struggles paved the way for Oberg to become the closer in early August.
Oberg performed well in his new role before blood clots in his arm ended his year. The Rockies’ most consistent reliever last season, Oberg had a 2.25 ERA with a 6-1 record and five saves in 56 innings. His performance earned him a three-year, $13 million contract extension this winter.
With the lack of payroll and zero spending this offseason, the cause for concern is getting stuck with Davis next season. In his three-year, $52 million contract he signed before the 2018 season, there is a vested option for an additional fourth season. If he finishes 30 games this season, his contract extends into 2021 for another $15 million.
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However, fans should not fret if Davis wins the job. If Davis comes out of spring training as the closer, that means he has proven to manager Bud Black and pitching coach Steve Foster that he has rebounded from his horrible ’19.
More importantly, if Davis is close to completing 30 games, the Rockies are likely winning and in the thick of a playoff hunt. Giving the Rockies management the benefit of the doubt (I know, that is a stretch with all of the offseason drama), one would think that they would be smart enough to pull Davis from the closer role if they were out of the race.
Also, if Davis is performing well and the Rockies are out of it, he would be a prime trade target for any contending team looking to add a reliever with playoff experience.
It is a win-win for the Rockies if Wade Davis is named the closer and has a bounce back season, so do not worry about that vested option. The only way he returns to Denver in 2021 is coming off a solid 2020.