At the Winter Meetings earlier this December, the Baltimore Orioles and Scott Boras had discussions about the possibility of Boras’ client, Chris Davis, returning to Baltimore. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Orioles had a seven-year contract offer on the table for Davis for around $150 million. Boras and Davis rejected the contract offer, with hopes to land an eight-year, $200 million deal this offseason.
Since then, Orioles GM Dan Duquette has taken the offer off the table, although they have still continued talks with Boras, per Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.
Since the Winter Meetings, there hasn’t been much talk about Davis being linked to any team, and it seems like — in my opinion — Boras is doing things that we usually don’t hear about him doing. Boras was on The Dan Le Batard Show, and said that Davis is a “very necessary component of the Baltimore Orioles.” He also noted on the show that he and the Orioles are making an effort to keep Davis in Baltimore. I may be the only one thinking this, but I feel as if it’s unusual for Boras to attach his highly-valued client to a team, as if his client needs to be on one team.
For another un-Boras-like move, according to Olney, Boras has been calling multiple teams regarding Davis. Wouldn’t you think Boras would sit back and let teams come to him about his power-hitting client? Things just seem a little off here.
So far this offseason, the Orioles are the only team that has really been linked to Davis. This comes off as a bit of a surprise, especially after Boras was attempting to sell Davis as the king free agent this winter. I think the free-agent market is currently disagreeing with Boras. Other potential fits that were speculated were the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants. Would you like to know why none of these seem likely?
- Red Sox — Hanley Ramirez has first base on lockdown and David Price stole all of their money.
- Blue Jays — Davis would be deadly in Toronto’s lineup, but the chance they spend the money it takes to acquire Davis seems low.
- Mariners — New GM Jerry Dipoto is preaching less strikeouts and better defense. Also, Seattle acquired Adam Lind to play first base.
- Astros — Davis fits the Astros’ ways, but it seems unlikely they’ll dish out the money.
- Angels — Justin Upton seems more likely, as he is a better fit in left field than Davis would be.
- Cardinals — All the focus seems to be on Alex Gordon there.
- Giants — They just dished out big contracts to Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto. Adding a contract bigger than each of those two to put Davis in left field doesn’t seem likely.
So why are teams not showing strong interest in Davis? Well, there are three main red flags that may have an impact.
First off, Davis has Ryan Howard written all over him. Let’s take a look at Davis and Howard in their age 26-through-29 seasons:
- Howard — 2755 PA, .278/.379/.589, 139 wRC+, 198 HR (13.9 PA/HR), .311 ISO, 27.8 K%, 13.5 BB%, 16.3 fWAR
- Davis — 2430 PA, .256/.342/.533, 135 wRC+, 159 HR (15.3 PA/HR), .277 ISO, 30.8 K%, 10.4 BB%, 15.5 fWAR
Simply put, Howard’s 26-through-29 seasons (2006-through-2009) were better than what Davis has done in his 26-through-29 years (2012-through-2015). For comparisons, let’s look at Howard’s production since then, which is a six-year period through his age-35 season:
3024 PA, .245/.321/.452, 108 wRC+, 135 HR (22.4 PA/HR), .207 ISO, 28.1 K%, 9.1 BB%, 1.3 fWAR
Talk about a huge drop off. As noted above, Howard played at a higher level in their respective age 26-through-29 seasons, and Howard has only been worth a total of 1.3 fWAR over the next six seasons following. With Davis hitting for less power and generating more strikeouts than Howard in their age 26-through-29 seasons, and Howard being a poor baseball player since then, there’s a lot of risk toward signing Davis.
Next, Davis’ 2014 season has to throw some teams off. It’s hard to remember for some, since his 2014 disaster slid right in between monster seasons in 2013 and 2015. In 2014, Davis slashed .196/.300/.404 with 26 homers (20.2 PA/HR), 94 wRC+, and 0.8 fWAR. Being just a season removed from that stat line should raise concern for any club looking to pay Davis the big bucks.
On top of those two, the Orioles have already reportedly offered Davis a seven-year contract for around $150 million, and it was rejected. Davis being a one-dimensional player, recently removed from a horrid 2014, and drawing close comparisons to Howard, what team should feel the urge to top the O’s seven-year, $150 million offer?
Davis could bring a lot of pop to a ball club, but he is also the biggest risk on the free-agent market. If no team feels comfortable giving Davis all that cash, he and Boras may want to reconsider that $150 million Orioles’ offer. And — if the Orioles are wise — there should be no $150 million to talk about with Boras. With the amount of holes the O’s have left to fill, $150 million to Davis could be a very unwise financial move from 2016-through-2022.