The Baltimore Orioles slightly adjusted their offer and re-signed Chris Davis. While this means they held on to their slugger, it also means that there’s nothing stopping teams from going after the other available big hitters like Yoenis Cespedes who might be the next one to be off the board.
Teams like the Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals were waiting to see what happens with Davis, knowing that he wants to stay in Baltimore. He bulked and waited patiently for the Orioles to improve their seven-year, $154 million offer. All it took was just $1 million more per season for Davis to sign, agreeing on a $161 million contract over seven years. This makes the third major re-signing by the Orioles this offseason following Matt Wieters taking the $15.8 million qualifying offer and Darren O’Day signing a four-year, $31 million deal.
So teams no longer can wait for Davis, and Cespedes isn’t going to the Orioles, who put some pressure on Davis to come back to the negotiating table by making an offer to the Cuban outfielder. It’ll be interesting how the Davis-Buck Showalter relationship is affected by what the manager had to say about the stalled contract talks with Davis, saying things that might have irked the best home run hitter in baseball last season and in 2013.
How much is enough? I asked Chris during the season, ‘Chris, when you walk into a Target store, can you buy anything you want? So, how much is enough? I love Chris, but if that, his decision, makes or breaks our team, shame on us.
So Cespedes, Justin Upton and also guys like Dexter Fowler and other outfielders and relative productive sluggers can start looking at their phone to see if offers are coming in. Cespedes seems to be the biggest prize on the board and the one who’ll get the best offers. But while we thought players were taking smaller deals at this point of the offseason, Davis and also Ian Kennedy signing with the Kansas City Royals shows the leverage isn’t necessarily in the hands of the teams.
Davis, 29, has hit 126 home runs in the last three seasons, including 47 in 2015 and 53 in 2013. No one has hit more home runs than him since 2012, but he also leads Major League Baseball in that timespan when it comes to striking out with 749. He’s 4th in RBIS (412) and 9th in slugging with .533. One issue with him has been his ability at home compared to on the road, with .594 slugging at home and only .479 on the road, 8% home run percentage compared to 5.2% on the road and .321 extra bases per at bat at Camden Yards compared to .238 on the road. His deal is the fourth overall in MLB history for a first baseman, trailing Albert Pujols ($240 million), Prince Fielder ($214 million) and Mark Teixeira ($180 million). He’s now by far the most expensive player in Orioles history, almost double the $85.5 million extension Adam Jones signed with the team in 2012, which could rise to $91.5 million through escalators.