Former closer Wade Davis returning to Royals on prove-it deal

After three seasons as a Rockie, Wade Davis will return to the Royals looking to prove he still has plenty left in the tank. 

Wade Davis striking out Wilmer Flores for the final out of the 2015 World Series, the Royals‘ first championship since 1985, is etched in Royals fan’s hearts forever. Now history has a chance to repeat itself with Davis, 35, returning to Kansas City in 2021 on a minor league contract.

Davis, a three-time All-Star, will return to the team where he had the most success in his career. In 2014 and 2015 Davis finished top-eight in Cy Young voting as the Royals made the World Series in both those seasons — losing in seven games to the Giants in 2014 and winning in 2015 in five games against the Mets.

Davis started his career as a starter with the Rays and in 2012 he was acquired by the Royals in the trade that brought James Shields to Kansas City and sent Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to Tampa Bay. Davis was moved to the bullpen full-time in 2014.

Davis signed with the Cubs for 2017, where he had an All-Star season. Then in December 2017, the three-time All-Star signed a three-year $52 million deal with the Rockies. Davis helped close the Rockies into the playoffs his first year in Colorado, but after that season injuries piled up and his production slipped. In 2019 Rockies’ manager Bud Black removed Davis from the closer role.

Injuries plagued Davis’ 2020 season where he appeared in five games and posted a 20.77 ERA.

What does this mean for Wade Davis and the Royals?

With the Royals expected to be at the bottom of the barrel in the AL Central this season, this could be a low-risk high-reward move. Davis has an opportunity to come back to the team of his glory days to see how many of those days he can emulate. Although Davis might not win much in KC, this at least is a chance for him to say goodbye to the city where he’s most beloved before his playing days are over.

It cannot be expected that Davis will return to his All-Star form. His velocity has decreased the past five seasons. However, with little mileage on his arm from the past year, if Davis can stay healthy and recreate his stuff in the twilight of his career — similar to what Andrew Miller has been able to do with the Cardinals — Davis can slide into the middle of the Royals’ bullpen.

The Royals’ bullpen is manned by closer Greg Holland, who had a 1.91 ERA in 2020. Behind Holland in Kansas City’s bullpen is 102-mph flame thrower Josh Staumont, 27, who posted a 2.45 ERA in 26 games, Scott Barlow, 28, who has tremendous upside, and Kyle Zimmer, the Royals’ 2012 first-round draft choice who had a 1.57 ERA with 16 appearances in 2020.

If Davis can’t make a positive contribution on the mound in 2021, his impact will still be valuable in the clubhouse as he uses his experience to mentor a talented-young Royals bullpen on how to win in the City of Fountains.

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