- Rating: 2.62
- 2023 stats: 2-5, 7.00 ERA, 1.664 WHIP, 82.1 IP, 62 ERA+
- Date of birth: February 7, 1993 (30 years old at the moment of publishing)
- 2023 earnings: $4.7 million (via Spotrac)
- 2024 status: Unrestricted free agent
The successful introduction of youth was the overriding theme for the 2023 D-Backs. Inevitably, that successful introduction would result in any number of roster casualties from previous holdovers as the franchise’s rebuild finally came to fruition. That process began quickly as Madison Bumgarner was released after just four impressively disastrous starts and a “lack of trust” developed between the pitcher and the team. Zach Davies’ decline was not quite as bombastic, but it ended in the same result as 2/5 of the 2022 rotation failed to end the season with the team in 2023.
Originally drafted in the 26th round of the 2011 Draft by the Orioles out of Mesquite High, Zach Davies quickly moved through the Baltimore minor league system. They exclusively used him in the rotation and he was an absolute grinder as he eclipsed 100 IP in every year he was in their system. He spent a season at each level and was on the cusp of a major league call up in 2015 when he was traded to the Brewers in an increasingly rare one-for-one trade for Gerardo Parra. To say the least, the Orioles got the fuzzy end of that lollipop as Davies went on to have a solid cup of coffee as a September call up starting six games and posting a 3.71 ERA and 108 ERA+. Conversely, Parra struggled to a .237/.268/.357 (.625 OPS) slash line in the second half of the season as the Orioles failed to make the postseason.
Following that brief but positive stint, Davies began the 2016 campaign in the Milwaukee AAA affiliate but quickly rejoined the big league club in April and solidified himself as a number four starter. As a rookie, he more than held his own as he posted a respectable 3.97 ERA, 1.249 WHIP, which was good enough for a 107 ERA+. Even more impressively, Davies managed to cover 163.1 across 28 games despite not even beginning the season with the major league club. Davies’ ability to avoid injury and post impressive inning totals became his calling card over the next three years despite a down year in 2018 where he dealt with rotator cuff inflammation but managed to avoid the dreaded Tommy John’s surgery.
Davies bounced back with a vengeance in 2019 however as he started 31 games that covered 159.1 IP and a solid 3.55 ERA. This bounceback season was good enough for the Padres to ship off Eric Lauer and Luis Frias for Davies and Trent Grisham in the 2019 offseason where he joined a solid rotation including Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger. He rewarded the Padres’ faith in him with his best season in the albeit COVID-shortened season as he headlined a rotation that made it to the NLDS before falling to the Dodgers. He was then traded again in an offseason trade to the Cubs as part of a large package of players that brought back both Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini.
Seeking a prove-it contract following a disastrous 2021 season, Davies signed with the D-Backs in late March of 2022 and he rewarded Mike Hazen’s trust by providing an admirable amount of stability in a rotation that sorely needed it. Unfortunately, Davies regressed both in stability and performance in 2023 as he navigated two separate injured list stints on the season. He was still able to provide 18 valuable starts for a team sorely lacking in rotational depth, but even when he was on the mound, he couldn’t recapture the performance he exhibited in Milwaukee or San Diego. Even worse, while the topline numbers dropped to a career-worst, the peripherals showed no sign for optimism as Davies increased his walk rate, his hard hit percentage, and his OPS against. Ultimately, Davies was an excellent signing. He provided stability, length, and a “veteran presence” in the clubhouse for an extremely young team. He never regained the form he once had, but there was plenty of value for a rebuilding team. I wish him all the best for his next stop on his major-league tour.