According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the Baltimore Orioles have made an offer to free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. With talks dragging along with first baseman Chris Davis, it appears the Orioles are beginning to get impatient. With holes still needing to be filled in the outfield and a slow-to-develop market, the Orioles may be poised to shake things up.
Per industry source, #orioles have made offer to Cespedes. Seem to prefer him over Upton at the moment. Nothing new on Chris Davis.
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) January 14, 2016
The initial offer to Davis was reportedly for seven years and over $150 million. Cespedes will not command such a lengthy or costly contract. His perceived value is likely in the $90-100 million range over five years, and the Orioles are right in the ballpark according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
It’s believed the #Orioles are willing to go to five years and the $75-90M range to sign Yoenis Cespedes.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 15, 2016
Cespedes is coming off what was, by far, his best full season since arriving from Cuba in 2012. Splitting his time between the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets, Cespedes batted .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs. After being traded, Cespedes caught fire, hitting 17 homers in 57 games with New York. He faded down the stretch, and was hampered by injuries in the playoffs and World Series. In four seasons, Cespedes is a .271/.319/.486 hitter, averaging 30 HRs and 103 RBIs per 162 games.
Comparing Cespedes and Davis is difficult. Cespedes hits for a higher average than Davis, but is notoriously streaky and does not walk. His defense can border on out of control at times. Davis has led the American League in home runs in two of the past three years. He is arguably the best home run hitter in the league, but he batted .196 in 2014 and struck out 208 times in 2015. His average hovered near .200 for the first two months of 2015 as well. If Cespedes is streaky, Davis is not much better. Both players can carry a team when they are hot. On the flip side, both can drag down an entire offense when they slump.
Cespedes may be more attractive to the Orioles than Davis, as he will be had for fewer years and a lower overall value. Both are entering their age-30 season. If the Orioles can save $50-60 million by signing Cespedes instead of Davis, there may be money left in the coffers to spend on a starting pitcher like Yovani Gallardo. Until then, Orioles fans wait with baited breath as another unproductive offseason drags on.