3. Baltimore Orioles Negotiate Against Themselves and Sign Chris Davis
It was pretty clear going into the offseason that the Orioles had a lot of work to do. Coming off a disappointing .500 finish, the team had several key players entering free agency. While the team was unable to re-sign LHP Wei-Yin Chen, who would later sign with the Miami Marlins, the team did re-sign two other key free agents in Darren O’Day and Chris Davis. While O’Day is clearly a strong signing by the Orioles, solidifying their bullpen in front of Zach Britton, the signing of Chris Davis comes with quite a plethora of question marks.
It was obvious from the start that the Orioles wanted Chris Davis back in Baltimore for 2016 and beyond. It was even more evident that the market for him seemed relatively quiet outside of Maryland. Even so, the Orioles still ended up paying quite a hefty price tag for Davis at seven years and $161 million, even with the deferred payments. Worse yet, it seemed like the Orioles were almost bidding against themselves for much of the offseason.
After Chris Davis declined an offer in the $150 million range, it seemed that the Orioles were ready to move on from the slugger if he would not agree. Davis and his agent attempted to market Davis as an outfielder, and reportedly were looking for a contract closer to, or even over, $200 million. Obviously that didn’t come to pass, and the Orioles still ended up giving Davis even more money, and bringing him back to Baltimore.
Now this move is questionable for a variety of reasons. While it can’t really be known who the Orioles were bidding against, it almost seemed like the team kept upping their own bid despite no apparent competition. More out of loyalty than common sense, the Orioles gave Davis the contract he wanted, whether it was necessary or not.
Beyond that, Davis is a slugger who will most certainly enter his decline phase at some point during the length of this contract. For a power-hitting first baseman with small defensive value, not much contact ability, and a relatively high strikeout rate, it doesn’t seem that Davis will be the type of player to age gracefully. For a team clearly in need of some sort of rebuilding, or at least retooling, being saddled with that kind of contract, and deferred payments, long term may not be a smart decision. Despite re-signing Davis, the Orioles will likely finish with an even worse record than their disappointing 2015 season. But that may just be the price of business.