As hard as it is to believe, the small-market Baltimore Orioles may actually be the favorites to re-sign All-Star first baseman/outfielder and home run champ Chris Davis. As the offseason drags on, there has been very little activity surrounding Davis. That could begin to change, however, as the final elite frontline starting pitcher, Zack Greinke, makes his selection.
Outside of the Orioles, the only team that has been seriously linked to Davis is the San Francisco Giants. The Giants definitely have a need for a power hitter, but all of their attention has been on Greinke so far this winter. If Greinke picks the Giants, and they are forced to pay him over $30 million per year, they will most likely not have enough money left over to sign Davis. San Francisco could become a more legitimate threat to the Orioles if Greinke elects to remain with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he may not really be the best fit on a National League roster, especially San Francisco’s.
As they have won three World Series titles in six years, the Giants have never really had a true power hitter like Davis. It takes a historically good bat like that of Barry Bonds to consistently hit for power in AT&T Park. The Giants have stressed quality starting pitching, elite defense, and timely hitting while building their championship rosters. Davis does not seem to be a fit, and outside of Coors Field, the rest of the NL West is not exactly a hitter-friendly division. If the Giants were somehow able to get Davis on a five-year deal, it may be something to consider, but he will end up with a six- or seven-year deal.
Count out the Giants.
Another National League team, the St. Louis Cardinals, are viewed by some as a good landing spot for Davis, especially if Jason Heyward signs elsewhere. It’s hard to envision the Cardinals being willing to spend close to $150 million to sign Davis. The front office did not bend over backwards to sign Albert Pujols, a better all-around hitter than Davis. It will not take a 10-year deal to get Davis to sign, but there is just as much uncertainty tied to his name. The St. Louis Cardinals are a big-time longshot when it comes to Chris Davis.
Next up on the list of potential threats to pull Davis away from Baltimore are the two Texas teams — the Rangers and the Astros. Davis comes from Longview, a small city located roughly equidistant to Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth. Neither the Rangers nor the Astros have been tied to Davis in any significant way. The Rangers have a first baseman in Mitch Moreland and a crowded outfield. It’s unlikely the Astros are ready to start handing out big contracts, even though their rebuilding process appears to be ahead of schedule. The Astros were aggressive at the trade deadline, and that may prove to be enough for their front office at this point. It would not be a total shocker, however, if the Astros are just being coy about their desire to keep payroll fairly consistent in 2016. Houston does not seem committed to another year of Chris Carter. First base could be opening up by the end of the non-tender deadline.
The Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox are two big-market teams who already have massive payrolls and a few bad contracts. The Red Sox could make a play on Davis if they can find someone to take Hanley Ramirez off their hands. It’s easy to envision Davis helping the Red Sox make a nice transition from the David Ortiz era, and Fenway Park should help him stay close to 50 homers. The Angels are obviously locked into Pujols for quite some time, but beyond Kole Calhoun, there is very little protection for Mike Trout. The Angels need another big bat. If Arte Moreno is fine with increasing payroll, Davis could travel across the country to Anaheim.
Each of the teams mentioned above have plenty of reasons not to sign Chris Davis. The Baltimore Orioles have all the reason in the world to re-sign Chris Davis. The front office must prove to its slightly jaded fan base that there is still a legitimate commitment to fielding a contender. As with the Boston Red Sox and David Price, the Orioles will be forced to attempt to outspend any other suitor for Davis. Scott Boras might be running the show, but it’s hard to imagine the player wanting to give Baltimore one last chance to match any offer. The Orioles stuck with Davis through numerous rough patches and gave his middling career a launching pad.
Until the rest of the market sorts itself out, the Baltimore Orioles should (gulp) be considered the favorites to re-sign Chris Davis. The team can ill-afford another unproductive offseason (all of the empty seats in August and September should do enough to reinforce that message). The impetus is there for the Orioles to get a deal done for Davis at all costs. That same impetus is not there for the rest of the teams that could be considered potential landing spots. The Red Sox reportedly outbid the Cardinals by upwards of $30 million for Price. The Orioles may be forced to do the same thing with Davis.
The rest of the league backed down on Price over concerns over the length of his deal, wear and tear on his prized left arm, and declining performance in years six and seven. All of those same concerns are likely to tamp the market down for Chris Davis, at least to some degree. The Red Sox could not worry about those concerns when they were negotiating with their big-ticket item, and the Orioles have to do the same thing with Davis. Until you hear otherwise, consider Baltimore the favorites to bring back Chris Davis.