Things have apparently slowed down so much in the Chris Davis market that Scott Boras is trying to sell his client as an everyday outfielder. This, despite the fact that Davis has only played the outfield 71 times in his career. Prior to starting 29 games in right field for the Baltimore Orioles last season, Davis had not played outfield since starting 39 games in left and right field in 2012 before he had fully established himself as a full-time starter. As an outfielder, Davis has been a negative in terms of defensive runs saved and also has a range factor below the league average. All of that is due to the fact that he is not really an outfielder, having spent less than ten percent of his career games tracking down fly balls.
Now, to add to the conundrum facing Davis and Boras, it appears the Orioles may be prepared to officially, finally, and once and for all move on from their All-Star home run champ. Reports have surfaced that the team has made Cespedes and offer in the $75-90 million range. While that may be on the low side of what Cespedes is seeking, this is the first concrete evidence that the Orioles are willing to seriously consider getting in bed with other free agents. That cannot be good for Davis. Cespedes can be had on a shorter, cheaper deal, allowing the Orioles the flexibility to pursue a starting pitcher if they so desire. The Cespedes offer seems like a low-ball offer though, and the Orioles could just be posturing and attempting to gain leverage with Davis.
Cespedes may be getting tired of being on the market. There have been no other reported five-year deals so far this offseason. If Cespedes jumps at the chance to sign with the Orioles and end his stay in free-agent purgatory, Baltimore may end their pursuit of Davis (though it seems plausible they would give him one, final, ultimatum).
If that scenario comes to pass, how would the market for Davis develop? It’s very hard to say, because one would logically assume that any team in on Cespedes would then consider Davis. It becomes tricky because we don’t actually know whether any other teams are serious about signing Cespedes. The St. Louis Cardinals seem to make sense, as do the Los Angeles Angels. The Chicago White Sox also seem to need another hitter and have not spent much money this offseason. Those are the leading contenders that come to mind right off the bat, but there will be sleeper teams out there, just as there are every year. Remember when the Angels weren’t going to spend money and then landed C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols in the same offseason? Or when the Detroit Tigers emerged from nowhere to sign Prince Fielder? Same goes for the Philadelphia Phillies with Cliff Lee Round Two.
There are a few other, sneakier teams who could pop up in the Chris Davis bidding, especially if the Orioles drop out and the price drops. So, who are they?