DENVER — Davis' three-year deal gives him the highest per-year salary in history for a relief pitcher, with his $17.3 million average topping Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman's $17.2 million.

Then again, other big-league teams were certainly going to offer the right-hander a massive free-agent contract. So why choose to pitch at 5,280 feet?

"I think one of the cool things of the whole process was that it looked like I was going to be on a winning team," Davis said Tuesday during a conference call. "Especially looking at the Rockies. (They have) a pretty young core in general and a pretty talented core, that's one of the things that was really intriguing and something to be excited about."

Davis, 32, knows all about winning.

He's been one of the best relievers in the major leagues since 2014 when Kansas City converted him from a starter and moved him into the bullpen. He helped the Royals climb to the World Series in 2014 and became the closer in 2015 when Kansas City won it all. He pitched 58 ⅔ innings for the Cubs this past season, finishing with a 2.30 ERA and 32 saves in 33 chances. The Cubs advanced to the National League Championship Series where they lost to the Dodgers in five games.

The 2018 Rockies, Davis said, bear some resemblance to that team in Kansas City that broke a 28-year playoff drought in 2014. The 2017 Rockies made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.


Advertisement

"I can see some similarities in the bullpen, for sure," Davis said. "This is just looking at it from a distance, but the offense (is potent). I remember preparing for them this year and that's not an easy offense to prepare for. It's probably in the top handful in baseball."

Davis also noted that he's impressed by Colorado's young starting rotation and a defense that features Gold Glovers Nolan Arenado at third base and DJ LeMahieu at second.

The right-hander brushed back questions about whether or not his combination of a fastball, cutter and curve will be as effective in Denver's thin air.

"I haven't really thought about it," he said. "I've pitched (at Coors Field) before and I didn't really notice any difference. The environment is different every place you go. You get different temperatures, and winds at different times of the day, so that's constantly changing. You go out there with what you have that day and you keep making pitches."

Left-handed reliever Jake McGee, who recently signed a three-year, $27 million free-agent deal to return to the Rockies, was instrumental in Davis' decision to choose Colorado.

"Jake said he loved it there," said Davis, who roomed with McGee during their minor-league days in the Tampa Bay organization. "He said (manager) Bub Black was one of the best to play for and he said the group of guys in the clubhouse are easy to get along with and they meshed well."

McGee said he knew early on in the free-agent process that the Rockies were eyeing Davis. After McGee signed with the Rockies in mid-December, he made a push for Davis to come to Colorado.

"I told him that this was a team that was going to win now," McGee said Tuesday from his home in Tampa. "I told him that Bud Black was awesome and I really like how he used the bullpen. I told him the team was awesome and the communication was really good. I thought he would be a good fit.

"I was very surprised when it happened, but then, Wade told me early in the offseason that the Rockies were interested."

Davis said he is completely healthy, despite missing about a quarter of the 2016 season with a flexor strain in his right forearm and despite not reaching 60 innings in either of the last two seasons.

"You have injuries all of the time in baseball, and sometimes they are never heard about," he said. "That was just a muscle that had flared up on me and I probably came back a little too quick at the time. That was my decision and maybe it stuck with me a couple of weeks longer. But I haven't had that issue since two years ago."