The Cubs are reportedly close to signing Doug Davis to a minor league deal. Davis has been considerably better throughout his career than most people realize. Baseball Reference uses Rally’s WAR calculation and has him at nearly 22 rWAR. Fangraphs has him at 23.5 fWAR. Last season he threw only 38.1 innings in the big leagues for the Brewers. He threw a small number of innings in the minor leagues as well, but had to miss most of the year because of a condition with his heart. He also had surgery on his elbow.
This is only a minor league deal and the truth is that if Doug Davis can return to the form he showed from 2003 to 2009, he’s a pretty good pick up for this team. His career FIP is basically league average (4.43). The ERA is also about league average and the same with xFIP. This is his age 35 season and he’s coming back from surgery and complications with his heart so even expecting him to be average is a stretch.
Marcel and ZiPS each projected a 4.42 FIP from Davis this season. If Wells and Cashner return on time, Davis is nothing more than depth. If one has a setback, Davis could see action with the Cubs. I know I’ve underrated Davis over the years and still have trouble figuring out how the ridiculously boring and time consuming Davis has given the Cubs so much trouble over the years. Only the A’s and Nationals have hit Davis worse than the Cubs have over his career. The A’s and Nationals faced Davis 9 different times while the Cubs have faced him 18 different times in the regular season.
Davis doesn’t turn this team into contenders, but for a team that thinks they are, this is about as solid a pick-up the team could have made for presumably little money.