Three months ago, the Orioles played their final game of the 2015 season. Exactly three months from now, they’ll play their first of the 2016 season.
We can assume that there will be some clarity in the Chris Davis situation between now and then.
In the early evening of Oct. 4, Davis had presumably hit the final two home runs of his Orioles career, and he spoke about how appreciative he was about the fans in Baltimore.
We haven’t heard from Davis since.
Throughout the free agent process, Davis has allowed his agent, Scott Boras to speak for him. Boras has tried to sell Davis as not only a quality first baseman, but a versatile player who can play the outfield, too.
The Orioles, who apparently have been his only serious suitor, understand that, and they’ve patiently played along—offering Davis money that few fans could quarrel with, that should, but won’t, forever silence those who claim the team refuses to spend.
Certainly, fans are far past the point of impatience with Davis, and with the Ravens’ season coming to an inglorious end on Sunday, there’ll be more attention on the Orioles now.
But, if Davis ends up re-signing with the Orioles, which still seems to be a real possibility, that will be forgiven—and quickly.
In 2014, despite an average below .200, Davis was still cheered in Baltimore. Last year, the fans still loved him after he completed his 25-game suspension for use of Adderall without a prescription.
Surely it will make Buck Showalter’s life easier if he can start contemplating lineups with Davis in it—or not. But, Showalter is adaptable and he can easily start thinking about where Mark Trumbo fits in, and if perhaps Pedro Alvarez would work.
In this unprecedented time of free agency, more quality players are available after New Year’s than any time before, and Davis’ decision isn’t likely to influence the other top hitters: Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon and Justin Upton.
Davis is the top first baseman and power hitter available. Teams would have to surrender a draft choice to sign him, but that doesn’t seem to be a deterrent.
MORE ORIOLES: Who will join Griffey in Hall of Fame?
Even if the Orioles reported offer of seven years and $150 million includes substantial deferred money and excludes an opt-out, there are few teams capable of matching—or exceeding it.
Boras is looking for one.
How about the Yankees? Over the holidays, they acquired the controversial reliever Aroldis Chapman for some lesser prospects from Cincinnati. Chapman could be subject to a suspension in a domestic abuse case.
With Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira nearing the end of their contracts, perhaps Davis could fit in there?
What about the Red Sox? David Ortiz is retiring after this season. Another big hitter would fit in well in Boston.
According to Baseballreference.com, the Yankees have an estimated payroll of just under $230 million for 2016, and the Red Sox’s is a shade below $199 million.
Davis doesn’t look like a fit there.
Other big spenders have massive estimated payrolls, too. Detroit ($177 million), San Francisco ($168), Los Angeles Angels ($167), and Texas ($144) don’t see to have the room for another massive contract.
And a team that does, Houston, seems not to have the inclination to spend.
The St. Louis Cardinals, whose payroll is probably a decent match for the Orioles, were a rumored destination for Davis earlier in the offseason, but they have an estimated payroll of $143.2 million—even without Jason Heyward.
Of course, Boras can always hope that the Astros change their mind or that an outlier—San Diego, for instance—ponies up.
The Padres’ projected payroll is under $100 million, and they could certainly use Davis.
Boras can probably hang on another two or three weeks if the Orioles don’t decisively move in another direction.
If the price for another of the top hitters, Cespedes, Gordon or Upton drops, then they well move on, but it’s apparent that the Orioles are still stuck on Davis, and that’s O.K.
He’s younger than Cespedes and Gordon, has more power than Upton, and is left-handed.
Boras is in an unusual position. Not only is Davis unsigned, but so is Wei-Yin Chen, another of his clients, and there hasn’t only been a little more chatter about him.
Chen, Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy are the only quality starters left on the market. While it seemed absurd at the start of free agency to contemplate both Davis and Chen returning to the Orioles, now it seems merely unlikely.
Boras is asking for a five-year deal for Chen, and teams have recoiled at that, but he’s apparently got more suitors for the left-handed pitcher than for his left-handed slugger.
It’s just not as many as he’d like.