Written by By Heather Hall, CNN
In San Diego, hardly a baseball game is played without a Budweiser tap in the on-deck circle.
And Thursday night will have been no different.
The pilsner is not only the official beer of the San Diego Padres but also the hottest free agent on the open market.
In his final home game before the start of the winter months, however, reliever Wade Davis will be adorned in his No. 95, signed and re-emblazoned by Budweiser, the uniform sponsor of the National League West champions.
Wade Davis has officially retired from the MLB after 13 seasons. Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP
Born in Deerfield Beach, Florida, the 33-year-old signed with the Padres in 2012 and spent the next three seasons pitching in San Diego.
Now in his second stint with the Chicago Cubs, the powerful right-hander was an unsung hero who was able to save a total of 62 games — second only to Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman (84) on baseball’s all-time list.
He was “just a good part of this bullpen,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said earlier this month. “It was a year of amazing things.”
The outings may have been fewer than others from other relievers, but Davis’s stats are well above average. In 2017 he earned $2.6 million and struck out 105 batters in 88 innings.
Fans of the other 31 teams will have to wait until January to see who they are cheering for this time next year.
If a salary cap of $167 million or more exists next season, however, Davis could find himself in a position to challenge for the highest contract ever paid to a reliever. And nobody is more determined to take home that prize.
Heck, with 12 years under his belt and the years of regular exercise and cardio he started in college, his running time may actually be a bit quicker than Rivera’s.
“It’s been a tremendous year, a lot of work done behind the scenes,” Davis told Tom Verducci of the MLB Network. “The whole reason I’ve done it is to play baseball.
A first class guy
“I could have all the free stuff in the world, but it’s not about that. You have to be prepared to come to the ballpark every day and work to get better. This team is a first class bunch of guys.”
Perhaps that is the secret to Davis’s longevity — and getting a first-class deal.
“The biggest thing about Wade is he’s a good guy to be around,” Michael Matheny, the first baseman who played with Davis on the Cardinals, told ESPN. “He comes to work. He’s always ready. That’s all you ask for in a player.”