Based simply on performance alone, it would have appeared obvious that the Royals should have picked up Wade Davis‘s option for the 2015 season. After all, he may have been the best reliever in baseball last year, closer or not, turning into a dominant weapon int he eighth inning. Overall, Davis went 9-2 with an ERA of 1.00, striking out 109 batters in 72 innings of work while not allowing a home run all season. In fact, dominance may not be a strong enough word for his performance.
Yet, with the Royals being the small to mid-market team that they are, picking up that option was not a foregone conclusion. Not only was Davis set to get a significant pay raise, but Greg Holland is also eligible for arbitration for the second time, and is likewise set for a hefty increase in salary. With Holland projected to earn approximately $8 Million in arbitration, the Royals may have determined that the combined salaries were too much for the back of the bullpen.
Instead, they have decided to stick with what has worked. The Royals have decided to pick up Wade Davis’s option, keeping Davis as a member of the team, at least for now. Based on how he performed last season, that option may actually be a bargain, especially considering how many teams are in desperate need for bullpen help.
It is that desperate need for bullpen help that leads to the ‘for now’ caveat with Davis remaining a member of the Royals. Even with two more options at $8 Million and $10 Million respectively, Davis may be a target for a team in need of a proven reliever, or potentially a closer. Even though closers can be a volatile commodity, set up men and middle relief may fluctuate even more.
This is not to say that the Royals should trade Wade Davis. Having that dominant back end of the bullpen is a major reason as to why the Royals were able to go on the run they did in the postseason, and Davis was a major part of that. If possible, the Royals should look to figure out an extension for both Davis and Holland, keeping that duo together for as long as they can.
However, failing to do so, trading Davis may be the better option. While Greg Holland may not have a higher value than he does now, Davis’s value may be even higher. Should a team call with interest in Davis, and offer a top prospect or two for his services, the Royals would need to listen.
Wade Davis is going to remain a member of the Royals. It just remains to be seen if he will be in Kansas City beyond this season.