First of all, the most important thing in this deal is that it shows the Orioles are willing to spend money to win. Having Chris Davis back is huge, both in the club house and on the field. You can’t just find 40-50 home run guys who can drive in 120 on a regular basis anywhere on the streets and expect not to have to pay them. So the fact that the O’s signed Davis to the largest contract in franchise history shows the fan base that upper management wants to win.
Does having Davis back better the team from last year to this year? No, at the end of the day, the Orioles did not improve from last year in this deal, but they would have have gotten significantly worse if they didn’t sign it. They’d have a big hole in the middle of that lineup that would need to be filled, plus the best pure lefty hitter on the team could have potentially been Ryan Flaherty.
Personally, I’m a big Cespedes guy, and was thrilled when yesterday’s news broke that the O’s offered him a deal, although I think they lowballed it. And honestly I would have loved for the O’s to sign Cespedes, even more so than Davis, because I think he’s a better all around player. He hits for a higher average, has a cannon for an arm, and in Camden Yards could hit 40 bombs. He hit 35 last year in Detroit and New York, neither of which are hitter friendly parks. The only down side of Yoenis is that he’s not the club house guy that Davis is. However, he would have commanded less years, and likely a lower annual value.
And if the O’s still want a starting pitcher, they can still sign one. The organization isn’t limited in funds, it’s all about how they choose to spend them. The O’s are just as capable of getting Davis plus a starting pitcher as they were of getting Cespedes and a starting pitcher. However there aren’t any pitchers left I’d be comfortable giving a large contract to, and I think that’s more the issue. I’d prefer seeing them sign a guy like Doug Fister to a one or two year deal, and get him on the cheap. But fans will of course bitch if no starter is signed, and blame Davis. But fans would complain whether we signed Davis or not, but let’s just be happy this organization is trying to win.
I still think trading for an outfielder from the Rockies could still be in the cards. It’s unlikely that Carlos Gonzalez is still on our radar, considering he has the highest annual value of any Rockies’ outfielder, coming in right around $18 mil/year for the next two years. But Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson both have affordable deals at the moment, because neither has hit free agency yet. And one of them could wind up playing a corner outfield spot in the O’s lineup this year, moving Mark Trumbo to full time DH.
This lineup has the potential to have A LOT of pop in it, and with the back end of the bullpen sured up, it looks like the starting pitching will again be the question heading into next season. The O’s need comeback years from Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez if they want to compete, and need contributions from guys like Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy if they want to contend for the World Series.
All in all it’s great to see Davis back. You could argue that it may not be the absolute best move out there for the organization, but it was necessary to at least make some big free agency signing this offseason, and I’m more than happy with this one. As long as it doesn’t affect the signing of Machado long term.