Joe Maddon knows his new closer well. Maddon and Wade Davis were together in Tampa from 2009 to 2012. The front office set out to address the Cubs’ pen this off-season, especially the backend. The Cubs acquired Davis from the Royals for Jorge Soler in what has been called one of the best moves of the winter.
When Davis is healthy he is one of the best relievers in the game. Davis knows how to pitch and can dominate out of a bullpen without “trying to blow people away.”
Maddon is excited about being reunited with Davis. Maddon was on the MLB Network on Monday and discussed the Cubs’ closer.
“This guy knows how to pitch. It’s not just about throwing one pitch and trying to blow people away. He’s able to … He’s got a great slider, a cutter that he came up with. I love his curveball and he knows how to compete against both sides of the plate.”
“Having him at the end of our bullpen is going to make it very stern once again,” Maddon said. “He’s well. We talked about it. He’s well. There are no concerns going into the season. I’m really excited because I’ve had a great relationship with him. He’s going to make us a really good bullpen this year.”
Davis was 2-1 with a 1.87 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 2.29 FIP in 45 games with 27 saves last season. Davis allowed nine runs, all earned, on 33 hits with 16 walks and 47 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings. Before the break, Davis was 1-0 in 30 games with 19 saves, a 1.23 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. After he returned from the DL for the second time, he was 1-1 with six saves, a 2.79 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 10 appearances.
Combined between 2015 and 2016, Davis was 44-for-48 in save situations and allowed one of 20 inherited runners to score. Davis entered 10 games with runners on and had clean innings in 104 appearances over the same two-year stretch.
The Cubs will have an eight-man bullpen next season with Wade Davis at the backend and Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Koji Uehara as the primary setup men. On paper, as long as there are no injuries the Cubs will begin next season with a better bullpen than the one that was in Anaheim for Opening Day last April.
LHP Travis Wood is garnering a lot of attention. At least 10 teams, seven from the National League, have shown interest in Wood. The Marlins were one of the teams that could give Wood an opportunity to start again.
Wood reportedly would like to be a starter again. He has not ruled out signing with a team as strictly a reliever if it is the right situation. The Cubs had interest in bringing Wood back, but only in the role he had this past year and for a majority of the 2015 season. It is unclear at this point if the Cubs are interested in Wood after signing Brian Duensing and acquiring Caleb Smith.
According to Jon Paul Morosi, Travis Wood is one of the left-handed relievers (Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan) the Blue Jays are showing interest in. The Jays are “heavily involved” in the lefty relievers that are on the market.
RHP Daniel Hudson agreed to terms with the Pirates on a two-year, $11 million contract according to Jeff Passan. The Cubs were linked to Hudson early in the off-season and were possibly interested in him being a utility pitcher out of the pen.
Passan reported that Hudson will be in the mix to close games for Clint Hurdle next season.
Hudson’s contract includes a $1.5 million incentives package per year based on games finished. Hudson’s base salary for next season is $5.5 million and he will be paid $5.5 million in 2018 according to Jon Heyman.
Hudson turns 30 in March and was 3-2 with a 5.22 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 3.81 FIP in 70 games for the D-Backs last season. As Jeff Passan pointed out, Hudson had a bad stretch and actually pitched a lot better than his season numbers. In save situations, Hudson was 5-for-5 with a 1.93 ERA and 0.42 WHIP.
The Cubs are one of the teams that have been linked to LHP Jerry Blevins. It is unclear if the Cubs are still in on Blevins. The 33-year old veteran lefty reliever is coming off a good season with the Mets (4-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.05 FIP) and is looking for a multi-year contract.
The Blue Jays are showing interest in Blevins, according to Jon Paul Morosi, and fellow left-handed reliever Boone Logan. The Jays “need a left-handed reliever” and are trying to sign one of the available free agents.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Cubs and Red Sox are among the favorites to win the 2017 World Series according to a report from the Score. The Cubs and Red Sox will begin the year as pre-season favorites to meet in the Fall Classic.
• The Giants signed Jimmy Rollins to a minor league contract. Rollins received a non-roster invite to big league camp and will be paid $1 million if he’s in the majors. Rollins is trying to land a job in Major League Baseball after playing in only 41 games for the White Sox last season. Rollins was released on June 15.
• David Ross retired from baseball without having to sign a minor league contract with a spring invite to try to make a team. Ross signed Major League contracts and was released only once in his career. The Reds released Ross on Aug. 19, 2008 … the Red Sox signed him three days later (Aug. 22, 2008).
• The Mets are “semi-engaged in trade discussions for center fielders” according to Ken Rosenthal. The Metropolitans have Yoenis Cespedes in left, three right fielders (Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto) and Juan Lagares in center field if the season started tomorrow. The Mets have had off and on conversations with the Pirates about Andrew McCutchen “with no apparent momentum.” Jarrod Dyson (Royals), Lorenzo Cain (Royals), Billy Hamilton (Reds) and Charlie Blackmon (Rockies) could be possibilities but as Rosenthal reported, the Mets would likely have to make three trades to add a centerfielder this winter.
• Buster Olney posted only a partial list and he is right, the list of unsigned free agents is enormous. According to Olney, agents are “already predicting that there will be veterans struggling to find jobs in the spring.”
• Buster Olney reported that trading Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Adam Jones is something the Orioles should start to prepare for now.
• The Yankees are interested in LHP Jose Quintana. According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Yankees have the prospects to make a deal with the White Sox for Quintana. According to Bruce Levine, the leverage is on the White Sox’s side in potential Jose Quintana trade.
• Jayson Stark asked is there any hope for baseball’s basement dwellers … the A’s, Rays, Reds and Padres.
• Jason Hammel is a useful free agent according to FanGraphs. And Hammel could be a fit with either the Mariners or Angels. The Yankees have been linked to Hammel and so have the Marlins.
• Veteran infielder Brendan Ryan signed a minor league contract with the Tigers according to Jon Heyman. If Ryan ends up in the majors, he will be paid $675,000. Ryan was on the Cubs payroll last season after being the PTBNL in the Starlin Castro–Adam Warren deal with the Yankees. Ryan was let go soon after the Cubs accepted him and the $1 million he was owed for last season. Ryan spent the year in the Nationals and Angels systems and appeared in 17 games with the Angels in the big leagues (1-for-13, .077/.077/.077).
• As the Cubs continue to look for left-handed relievers, keep an eye on veteran Craig Breslow. The Cubs have been connected to Breslow for several years but he picked the Red Sox and Marlins instead. Breslow turned 36 in August and is scheduled to throw for teams in Boston on Jan. 23. According to Evan Drellich, Breslow has a “new lowered arm slot that makes him a tick away from being a sidearmer.”
• The Rays signed former Cub-for-a-minute OF/1B Shane Peterson to a minor league contract according to Ken Rosenthal.
• The Mariners announced their minor league managers and coaching staffs … and Pat Listach will be back in Tacoma managing the Mariners’ Triple-A team next season.
This Day in Cubstory
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Ryan Roberts
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Shawn Estes
2000 – Cubs signed free agent Rob Stanifer
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Ricky Gutierrez
1997 – Cubs granted free agency to Kent Bottenfield
1996 – Cubs granted free agency to Jim Bullinger
1995 – Cubs granted free agency to Anthony Young and Todd Zeile
1993 – Cubs granted free agency to Shawn Boskie, Greg Hibbard and Mike Harkey
1991 – Cubs granted free agency to Chico Walker
1985 – Cubs released Derek Botelho and Lary Sorensen
1983 – Brian Dopirak, born
1980 – Luke Carlin, born
1979 – David DeJesus, born
1974 – Augie Ojeda, born
1972 – Gabby Hartnett passed away in Chicago on his 72nd birthday
1953 – Paul Moskau, born
1952 – Cubs acquired Sheldon Jones from the Braves for Monk Dubiel
1949 – Oscar Gamble, born
1915 – Marty Felderman, born
1900 – Gabby Harnett, born
1888 – Fred Merkle, born