The Rockies poured $106MM into their bullpen prior to the 2018 season, signing Wade Davis to a three-year, $52MM contract (the highest annual rate ever promised to a reliever) and inking right-hander Bryan Shaw and lefty Jake McGee to matching three-year, $27MM deals. To this point, none of that trio has pitched up to his abilities, with 2019 being a particularly brutal year thanks to Davis’ stunning struggles. In 42 2/3 innings, Davis posted an 8.65 ERA with career-worst walk and home run rates. Shaw, meanwhile, posted an ERA north of 5.00 for the second straight season, while McGee managed a tolerable 4.35 ERA in an injury-shortened campaign.
Those underperformances not only combined to play a significant role in Colorado’s playoff miss but have also hamstrung the Rockies entering the current offseason. Owner Dick Monfort has plainly stated that the team lacks payroll flexibility. It’s instinctual to suggest that the Rockies need to move some contracts this winter in order to help free up some payroll capacity, but that’s far easier said than done; beyond the poor showings from that high-priced trio of relievers, each has a 2021 option that further complicates matters (hat tip to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post for the observation on Davis and Shaw).