The Chicago Cubs bullpen resembled a roller coaster throughout the entire 2017 season. Closer Wade Davis was seemingly the only consistently trustworthy reliever for the Cubs during the season and into the postseason.
The bullpen was excellent in the first half, but at that point, the Cubs offense and starting rotation struggled. In the second half, the bullpen often wavered, walking many and giving up late leads. When the postseason finally rolled around, no one besides Davis was ultimately able to get the job done.
Perhaps in an attempt to combat the walk issues the bullpen has faced, the Cubs chose not to exercise their option on longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio. But more will need to be done in order to improve the bullpen. The Cubs should look to acquire new relievers in free agency while also figuring out what went wrong with relievers like Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery. The two have good stuff—they just need to stop walking people.
However, no one currently in the Cubs bullpen besides Davis is suited to take on the role of closer. Edwards may be the Cubs closer of the future, but this postseason showed that he is not ready for the role yet.
The Cubs should seriously consider resigning Wade Davis in free agency this offseason. Davis will likely be the best closer on the market. Despite the high price they will have to pay, he has proven himself as reliable throughout the 2017 season.
The only other big closer name on the market is Greg Holland, Davis’s former teammate from Kansas City. Holland is likely to receive a similar sized contract to Davis, having finished tied with Kenley Jansen for the National League lead in saves in 2017 with 41.
Additionally, many of the large market teams who would generally be in the race for a high profile closer already have closers for next season. The Los Angeles Dodgers have Jansen, the Boston Red Sox have Craig Kimbrel, and the New York Yankees have Aroldis Chapman, to name a few. The Cubs main competition for Davis could ultimately be their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. This could provide some extra motivation for the Cubs to avoid losing Davis to a division rival.
It may be difficult for some Cubs fans to stomach their team signing such an expensive contract. But with Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Miguel Montero all coming off the payroll this offseason, the Cubs can afford to make an expensive signing. Davis could be with the team throughout its championship window, remaining a reliable part of the bullpen going forward.
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