The Rockies made some significant bullpen moves Sunday, moving closer Wade Davis to the 10-day injured list due to a right shoulder strain. Right-hander Joe Harvey has been recalled to take Davis’ spot on the active roster. In more troubling news, right-hander Scott Oberg has been moved from the 10-day IL to the 45-day IL due to blood clots in his throwing arm.
Oberg was previously on the injured list due to a back strain, though a throwing session on Saturday was ended early after Oberg was had “a little discomfort in the hand” and “had a hard time gripping the ball,” as manager Bud Black told MLB.com’s Thomas Harding and other reporters. Further tests revealed the blood clots, marking the second time in two seasons and the third overall time in Oberg’s career that he had dealt with such a problem.
The right-hander has had to undergo three separate surgeries in efforts to dissolve the clots, and a fourth procedure could quite possibly be in the cards given the seemingly perpetual nature of the issue. Black hinted Sunday that Oberg might not take the field in 2020, telling Harding and other media “it’s going to be awhile if at all for Scott this season.”
Despite all the health concerns, the Rockies signed Oberg to a three-year, $13M extension this past winter, covering his final two arbitration-eligible years, his first free-agent year and potentially the 2023 season as well via an $8M club option. It was a commitment the Rox were comfortable making given how well Oberg performed in 2018-19, as he posted a 2.35 ERA, 3.29 K/BB rate, 9.0 K/9 over 114 2/3 innings.
Davis recorded saves in his first two outings this season but blew up in two-thirds of an inning against the Padres on Friday night, surrendering four earned runs in the form of home runs from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Tommy Pham. A shoulder issue could be the reason for Davis’ poor showing, though it marked an unwelcome continuation of Davis’ disastrous form from the 2019 season. He managed only an 8.65 ERA over 42 2/3 innings, though things didn’t really go south for Davis until after he returned from an oblique injury last June, so health could potentially have been a factor.
2020 is the last guaranteed year of the three-year, $52M contract Davis signed with Colorado prior to the 2018 season. The $15M mutual option in the deal for 2021 can vest into a player option, though it still isn’t entirely clear what new number of games finished Davis would have to accumulate in order to gain control over his 2021 salary. That said, it might be a moot point given that Davis’ injury and his overall struggles will leave the Rockies turning to another option for the ninth inning. Jairo Diaz is the top closer candidate at this point, though Carlos Estevez or comeback kid Daniel Bard may also get consideration for save opportunities.