Tag Archive | "Chris Davis"

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2016 Orioles preview: Chris Davis

Posted on 28 March 2016 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than a week away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.

March 1 – Adam Jones
March 2 – Chris Tillman
March 3 – Jonathan Schoop
March 4 – Brad Brach
March 5 – Nolan Reimold
March 6 – Yovani Gallardo
March 7 – Matt Wieters
March 8 – T.J. McFarland
March 9 – Dariel Alvarez
March 10 – Brian Matusz
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Mychal Givens
March 13 – Ryan Flaherty
March 14 – Ubaldo Jimenez
March 15 – Mark Trumbo
March 16 – Darren O’Day
March 18 – Pedro Alvarez
March 19 – Oliver Drake
March 20 – Mike Wright
March 21 – Zach Britton
March 22 – Caleb Joseph
March 23 – Dylan Bundy
March 24 – Christian Walker
March 25 – Chaz Roe
March 27 – Manny Machado

1B Chris Davis

Age: 30

Contract status: Under contract through the 2022 season

2015 stats: .262/.361/.562, 47 HR, 117 RBI, 100 R, 2 SB, 670 PA

Why to be impressed: The left-handed slugger has averaged just under 40 home runs per year over the last four seasons, an incredible run that earned him the richest contract in franchise history. Davis also posted a career-best 12.5 percent walk rate and fared much better against the shift in 2015, posting a .319 batting average on balls in play compared to his .242 mark in 2014.

Why to be concerned: Davis continues to pull the ball more and more and did it 10 percent more than he did in 2013, a trend that doesn’t age well and makes him easier to defend when he’s not hitting the ball out of the park. His strikeout rate (31 percent) improved from his career-worst level of 33 percent in 2014, but his contact rate (64.4 percent) was still down significantly from his 2012 and 2013 levels.

2016 outlook: We’ve seen Davis at his best and at his worst all in the last three years, making it difficult to know what to expect from the slugging first baseman. You always wonder how a player will respond to having long-term security, but I’ll bet on Davis being motivated to prove he’s worth the lucrative contract, even if it will be difficult to hover around the 50-homer mark for a third time in four years.

2016 not-so-scientific projections: .254/.355/.537, 39 HR, 101 RBI, 94 R, 2 SB, 648 PA

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Walker optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to play left field

Posted on 26 March 2016 by Luke Jones

First baseman Christian Walker was never expected to make the Opening Day Roster, but a productive spring and a position change may have put him in better position to help the Orioles in 2016.

On Saturday, Walker was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk where he will play left field every day for the Tides. The 2014 Orioles minor league player of the year turns 25 on Monday and will be playing the outfield for the first time in his minor-league career after seeing some time there in the Grapefruit League.

The position change figures to be Walker’s best chance to stick in the majors with Baltimore since Chris Davis is now under contract through the 2022 season and Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez are also options at first base for the 2016 season. Left field remains an uncertainty for the Orioles with Korean newcomer Hyun Soo Kim and Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard battling for playing time to begin the season, but Walker could make himself an attractive option if he can hold up at his new defensive spot.

In 44 spring at bats, Walker hit .227 with four home runs, 14 RBIs, four doubles, a triple, two walks, and an .881 on-base plus slugging percentage. He has just 31 plate appearances in the major leagues over the last two seasons, but he hit .257 with 18 homers, 74 RBIs, and a .748 OPS at Norfolk in 2015.

With Walker being cut from the spring training roster, the Orioles now have 43 players remaining in major league camp, which includes eight non-roster invitees.

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Alvarez, Orioles agree to one-year deal

Posted on 08 March 2016 by Luke Jones

After spending much of the offseason trying to add another outfielder such as Dexter Fowler or Austin Jackson, the Orioles have called an audible to add another left-handed bat to the 2016 mix.

According to multiple outlets, the club agreed to a one-year, $5.75 million contract with former Pittsburgh corner infielder Pedro Alvarez. Of course, the deal is pending a physical.

Given the 29-year-old’s well-documented defensive limitations at both first base and third base, the Orioles are expected to make Alvarez their designated hitter with Mark Trumbo likely serving as the primary right fielder. The move certainly adds more power to a lineup that was already strong in that department, but how much it might negatively impact the defense with Trumbo in right is a fair question.

Alvarez, the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, has hit 27 or more home runs in three of the last four seasons. In 150 games for the Pirates last year, he hit .243 with 27 homers, 77 RBIs, and a .787 on-base plus slugging percentage.

His best season came in 2013 when he clubbed 36 homers and drove in 100 runs to make the All-Star team, but Alvarez is also prone to striking out and led the NL with 186 strikeouts that season. Unlike new teammate and the strikeout-prone Chris Davis, however, Alvarez doesn’t show good patience at the plate and has drawn no more than 57 walks in a season.

Despite Alvarez being under club control for the 2016 season, the Pirates elected not to tender him a contract in December, making him a free agent.

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Pot-committed Orioles may need to push chips in on Gallardo

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have pushed plenty of chips to the center of the poker table this winter.

A seven-year commitment to first baseman Chris Davis worth $161 million, the richest contract in franchise history.

Making All-Star relief pitcher Darren O’Day one of the highest-paid setup men in the majors.

Paying just under $25 million for the services of three-time All-Star catcher Matt Wieters and designated hitter Mark Trumbo for the 2016 season.

In other words, the Orioles are what the poker world labels as “pot-committed” with a projected payroll now north of $130 million. But there’s still a problem with that spending.

They’re currently no better than they were a season ago when they finished 81-81. In fact, they’re worse on paper after the free-agent departure of starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and his 3.72 ERA over the last four seasons.

It’s reasonable to expect Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez to rebound — at least somewhat — from last year’s difficulties, but that doesn’t mean a return to their exceptional performances of 2014, either. Kevin Gausman could be ready to take off at age 25 and the Orioles may see more good Ubaldo Jimenez than the bad Jimenez in 2016, but that would still be too much hoping and not enough improving.

After turning their nose up to the cost of starting pitching all winter, the Orioles find few viable options remaining. The likes of David Price or Zack Greinke were never realistic, but second- and third-tier options such as Scott Kazmir (three years, $48 million) or even Doug Fister (one year, $7 million) were still available to slot into a thin rotation.

That finally brings us to Yovani Gallardo, the man linked to the Orioles throughout the offseason and probably the best option remaining on the market. Soon to be 30, the veteran right-hander is far from a sure bet despite a career-best 3.42 ERA in 2015 and a 3.66 lifetime mark in the majors.

Signing him would require the Orioles to forfeit the 14th overall selection of the 2016 draft after Texas made him a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason. That is an understandable deterrent for an organization in need of restocking its farm system, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said several times this offseason that the Orioles would prefer not to forfeit the pick.

Despite a strong ground-ball rate hovering around 50 percent that would figure to be perfect for Oriole Park at Camden Yards and a strong infield defense, Gallardo has seen his average fastball velocity dip from 92.6 miles per hour in 2011 to 90.5 with the Rangers last season. His strikeout rate has declined in three straight seasons and fell to a career-low 5.9 per nine innings in 2015 after averaging more than a strikeout per inning in his first six major league seasons.

Those numbers make a long-term commitment to Gallardo a risky one, but he’s still a much better option than the newly-acquired Odrisamer Despaigne, Vance Worley, Mike Wright, or Tyler Wilson, who are more scratch-off lottery tickets than good starting candidates for a club already lacking dynamic talent in its first four starter spots. Even if you’re not keen on the Orioles giving Gallardo a long-term contract, he would instantly move to the top half of the rotation and slide the aforementioned names into more appropriate roles as relievers or depth at the Triple-A level.

Losing the 14th overall pick would be disappointing, but the Orioles would still hold five selections in the first 100 spots. An increased financial commitment to international talent — something the organization should be making anyway — could also offset that sacrifice.

At the start of the offseason, Gallardo would have been far from the top choice, but the Orioles are now less than two weeks away from spring training and haven’t replaced their best starter from a year ago when their rotation finished 14th in the American League in ERA. Beggars can’t be choosers when you’re in need of starting pitching at this late stage of the winter.

Gallardo’s addition wouldn’t guarantee a trip to the playoffs, but it would be foolish to spend as much as the Orioles have this winter without seriously addressing a rotation that was the biggest reason for their downfall in 2015. There’s no sense in playing a high-stakes hand of poker if you’re just going to muck your cards after committing more than $200 million earlier this offseason.

If you’re going to do it, go all the way.

The Orioles’ spending says they’re in win-now mode — especially with both Manny Machado and Adam Jones hitting free agency after the 2018 season — but their starting rotation suggests otherwise. There isn’t enough depth, and there certainly isn’t enough quality depth.

Signing Gallardo comes with risk and sacrifice, but he could help a neglected rotation compete in 2016.

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Orioles haven’t found pitching they like for prices they like

Posted on 22 January 2016 by Luke Jones

Having just signed the richest deal in franchise history, first baseman Chris Davis stated the obvious when asked Thursday what else the Orioles still need for the 2016 season.

“Obviously, we lost [Wei-Yin] Chen,” Davis said, “so I think we need another starting pitcher.”

The answer probably wasn’t music to the ears of Dan Duquette after the organization awarded the 29-year-old slugger with a seven-year, $161 million contract, but the executive vice president of baseball operations said at the start of the offseason that upgrading the starting rotation would be a top priority. And that was before Chen, their most consistent starter over the last four seasons, signed a five-year, $80 million contract to join the Miami Marlins.

With spring training less than a month away, the remaining options are few for a club that finished 14th in the American League in starter ERA in 2015, which included Chen’s 3.34 mark over 31 starts.

“We’re still looking for additions to our pitching staff,” Duquette said. “It takes a lot of energy to sign a star player for an organization. Obviously, we have a long-term deal with Chris, and we’re happy to have him here. We’re always cognizant of what we need to add to our pitching staff. We haven’t found the pitching that we really like at the prices we like. That’s been a very, very expensive market this offseason, but I’m confident we’ll be able to come up with the pitching that we need to compete.”

How costly has it been?

Even Davis’ agent, Scott Boras, commented on the high demand for starting pitching this offseason after he negotiated five-year contracts for Chen and Kansas City starter Ian Kennedy and even fetched a two-year, $16 million deal for Mike Pelfrey — and his career 4.52 ERA — in Detroit. Boras said this has affected the timing of the market for position players such as Davis.

Of the 10 contracts worth $80 million or more that have been signed this winter, seven have gone to starting pitchers.

“We’ve had eight pitchers sign five-or-more-year contracts in this market,” Boras said. “That’s unheard of. The demand on pitching quelled the market on offensive power, because the teams were so focused. So many teams needed pitching and needed offense, but the competitiveness for the pitching took a focus.”

So, who’s left?

Right-hander Yovani Gallardo turns 30 next month and has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his seven full seasons in the majors, but his strikeout rate has rapidly declined from 9.0 per nine innings in 2012 to just 5.9 last year and the Orioles would have to forfeit their 2016 first-round pick to sign him.

The 28-year-old Mat Latos was an above-average starter in the National League — he had a 3.34 career ERA entering 2015 — until injuries derailed his last two seasons and questions arose about his attitude after his trade from Cincinnati to Miami last offseason. At this point, he could be looking for a one-year pillow contract to re-establish his value, but Camden Yards wouldn’t be the ideal setting for that from his perspective.

Like Latos, signing right-hander Doug Fister wouldn’t require a draft pick, but he will be 32 and has seen his strikeout and groundball rates decline as well as his velocity. However, he does have experience pitching in the AL and won 16 games and posted a 2.41 ERA in 2014.

There isn’t much out there beyond that, unless you want to try to take Tim Lincecum for a ride in your DeLorean.

“There are some pitchers out there that we like, and then we have talked to some other teams about pitching,” Duquette said. “The problem with the pitching market is there have been more teams chasing fewer pitchers. There’s not enough to go around. That’s an age-old problem. But it was very acute this winter.”

Even if the Orioles are to pluck one of the aforementioned options from the market, none would be a guarantee to settle into the top half of the rotation, much less headline the group. Depth will remain a concern with the likes of Vance Worley, Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, T.J. McFarland, or a stretched-out Brian Matusz waiting in the wings.

The need for Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez to return to pre-2015 form and for Kevin Gausman to take a a major step forward has been discussed ad nauseam, but injuries — at least minor ailments — are inevitable over the course of a 162-game schedule and Baltimore appears ill-equipped to endure that reality. Duquette’s statements about the pitching market on Thursday may have contained truth, but the Orioles annually lament a free-agent market that’s more expensive than they anticipated.

That won’t make fans feel any better about the state of the rotation.

“We should have a good defensive team,” Duquette said. “We’ve got a lot of the core back. We should be strong up the middle. We have Buck’s leadership and the bullpen, and I think those are all strengths of the team that we can build on. We’re going to have to get some good performance from the pitchers that we have and then continue to add to that.”

The Orioles still have a lot going for them, and there is some reasonable upside to help fill the void left by Chen. Doubts entering the season certainly existed prior to 2012 when the club unexpectedly returned to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years and before 2014 when the Orioles endured season-ending injuries to Manny Machado and Matt Wieters to win their first AL East title since 1997.

It’s a reality in which the Orioles have thrived, according to Davis.

“That’s kind of been our MO the last few years,” Davis said. “We’ve never been the sexy team, so to speak — the easy pick to win the AL East. I think we kind of like that role.”

Hopefully, the starting rotation will feel the same way.

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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 4): Sue, sue, sue for the home team – Angelos v. Everyone

Posted on 22 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“If we hadn’t reached a resolution with him, there is no doubt in my mind he would have sued,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s former president and chief operating officer. “He told my people he would sue and his professional background suggested that he was willing to sue.”

Bob DuPuy

Former MLB Chief Operating Officer

The New York Times

Aug. 19, 2011

 

 

Over the past decade, it’s clear that the script of “How to win the war with Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals over $298 million” reads directly from the Peter G. Angelos law firm playbook.

There’s not one step in this process where litigation wasn’t threatened or, inevitably, enacted. The money – as we’ve outlined in the previous three chapters of this “MASN Money For Dummies” series – per this unique arrangement with Bud Selig and the MLB owners, has all been designed from the outset to funnel into his pockets.

And anyone not named Angelos who believes they’re entitled to it can line up with their lawyers and watch his legal team dance – all while dangling the hundreds of millions of dollars that’s currently sitting in his coffers. Later in this series, I’ll examine the world from Angelos’ point of view and what it’s meant to the baseball operation of the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s very clear to anyone watching this epic legal struggle that there’s an astonishing amount of money at stake.

Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals are circling like buzzards to see what they can get – knowing they made a vague deal with a megalomaniac who has no intentions of ever giving any of them a nickel of the now billions in real money and value they’ve funneled his way since 2005.

If you want the money, you can deal with all of the aggravation, testimony, documents, discovery and lawyering up that Peter G. Angelos can muster and try to come and get it. Bud Selig left his throne without getting any closer than his successor Rob Manfred is getting. The dispute is now into its fifth year of absolute acrimony.

It was a fascinating admission on the part of Bob DuPuy, who was the foil in the Angelos-MLB negotiation at every turn in 2004 and 2005, that Angelos might be litigious. Some joked that DuPuy kept Amtrak in business, back and forth to Baltimore from New York to get a deal done for “Buddy,” who somehow thought he could strike up a reasonable agreement with Angelos after he crossed him by bringing a team to Washington.

Many make the mistake in believing that Angelos only likes asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits.

Au, contraire.

Angelos stormed about legal action against Albert Belle and voiding his contract after he gave a fan the middle finger at Camden Yards, and eventually saved $30 million with an insurance claim that the team went to great lengths to enact.

He got the city to threaten to sue MLB back in 1994, after he walked away from his fellow owners in the labor stoppage in 1995 when they wanted to field replacement players.

He threatened the NFL when he tried to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even drew the attention of Art Modell before the Ravens came to Baltimore.

He’s fought with Ed Hale over billboards, aesthetics and advertising revenue at the then-First Mariner Arena.

He famously brought Russell Smouse, his lead lawyer, into the Orioles front office to keep things in order.

He threatened litigation and breach of contract with Dan Duquette in 2014, which is why the guy who’s currently running the team is still “running the team.”

Angelos wound up in a dispute with former GM Frank Wren over $400,000 after doing everything possible to publicly humiliate him with “causes” for his firing in the media. And that was 17 years ago.

And then, of course, the Angelos standby in contract negotiations with baseball players is the “player physical,” which has become something …

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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 3): Angelos was bleeding cash when Nats money came

Posted on 19 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

 

 

Those who complain don’t know the ins and outs of what’s going on. They have their own lives to lead, their own problems to deal with. And they are not going to become acquainted with what our economics are, and you can’t expect them to.”

Peter G. Angelos, May 2006

                                                                                 (as told to PressBox via Q&A)

 

 

THE SINCERE HOPE OF PETER G. Angelos is that you’re too dumb to figure this stuff out and too bored to read all of this vital information about where the money comes from. Especially now that Chris Davis has signed a long-term contract, which isn’t a blip on the radar of the finances of the franchise when you do the real math, many fans somehow believe that it was an incredible stretch to find the money to pay him.

Here’s the truth: knowing the facts about how much money the MASN tree is printing for Angelos and his family certainly doesn’t reflect well upon his legacy or commitment to winning. Especially when you consider that the team has been an abject failure on the field in 18 of the 22 seasons under this ownership group.

I love how Chris Davis said “we want to continue a tradition of winning here in Baltimore.” Spoken like a babe in arms. It’s kinda nice that he thinks that but that’s far from the truth. The Orioles haven’t “won” anything under the reign of Peter G. Angelos.

But Mr. Angelos has made a LOT of money – and after he lost a LOT of money.

But to understand the money – and where it came from and where it’s going – is to understand the Orioles’ offseason budgeting and what they’re trying to do on the field. From Chris Davis to Matt Wieters to Darren O’Day, it’s the money that funds the players.

As Buck Showalter said at the winter meetings on December 8th from Nashville on MLB Network TV: “We have plenty of money.”

Today, we’ll examine the history of Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles ownership group and the birth of MASN and the Washington Nationals and how this nuclear war for the biggest pile of television money in local sports history began.

In the Fall of 2004, Peter G. Angelos, as usual, was preparing for war – this time with his partners over the concept of baseball in the nation’s capital. Realizing that commissioner Bud Selig and the owners of the 29 other MLB teams, who collectively had purchased the Montreal Expos, were hell bent on moving that franchise to Washington, D.C., John Angelos issued an internal memo cutting all expenses.

Of course, some saw this as a sign that he was about to sell the Orioles to local money manager Chip Mason.

“The mere issuance of a memorandum suggesting potential savings in a greater degree in efficiency of operations does not suggest that the enterprise being reviewed is for sale,” Angelos told The Baltimore Sun. “To suggest otherwise is absurd and clearly erroneous.”

The team had just invested $121.5 million into contracts for Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, Rafael Palmeiro and Sidney Ponson. “The millions recently spent on player acquisitions hardly suggest we’re on a cost-cutting crusade,” Angelos told the local newspaper. “On the contrary, we are moving forward aggressively to produce a very competitive and winning team for our fans both this year and in the years ahead.”

At this point, Angelos was very quietly hemorrhaging money by the tens of millions. In the early days, he bragged about the Orioles making money to The Baltimore Sun.

Seven years earlier, Angelos sat with me at The Barn in March 1997 on WLG-AM 1360 and went through a lengthy diatribe about how baseball could never work with two teams – one in Baltimore and one in Washington, D.C. (and at that point Northern Virginia seemed a far more likely destination). But he also told me that the Orioles lost $4 million the previous year – and that’s when they were selling 3.6 million tickets and winning.

Feel free to listen to that conversation here:

This Chapter 3 of my MASN Money For Dummies series will be brief because I’ve already written this part of the Angelos journey as Chapter 12 of The Peter Principles, a book I’ve been writing about the ownership of Peter G. Angelos.

I would cut and paste it here, but just click here and continue reading the history of how this MASN money gravy train began with the poor negotiation tactics of Bud Selig to deal with the likes of Peter Angelos. It’s now 12 years later and nothing is really solved except that the money is flowing in by the tens of millions every month via your cable television bill and MLB and the Nationals, along with owner Ted Lerner, haven’t figured out a way to extract their “fair share.”

In 1994, Angelos said about Selig during the MLB owners dispute with the Major League Baseball Players Association: “He is a very successful automobile dealer. What makes him think he has the abilities to do what he is trying to do here is beyond my comprehension!”

Angelos infuriated every partner in Major League Baseball in 1994. In 2002, he came back to save the day as a lead negotiator – and olive branch Democrat who curried favor with the Players’ Association – for Selig and his MLB partners. But at every turn he made it very clear that any notion of a team anywhere near Washington or Northern Virginia would never be acceptable under any condition.

Angelos lobbied many times and in many ways to keep baseball out of Washington, D.C. long before 2004.

“It isn’t that we would deny the people that live in those areas the recreational pursuit of baseball. We think baseball is a great game for everybody. But when we look at the experience of Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Francisco – Boston and Philadelphia and St. Louis had two ballclubs. The history of baseball dictates that you can’t put two teams that close together. We are opposing that. We think Orioles baseball is plenty good enough for us as well as the people in the Washington suburbs and we thank them for that support and we want to retain that support.”

At the 2004 All Star Game in Houston, it appeared that Bud Selig was still unsure of the future of the Expos.

“I will not do anything to make Peter Angelos unhappy,” Selig told The New York Times.

It’s interesting to do the research and see the local media’s role in garnering the Washington Nationals for the nation’s capital. The Washington Post played as big of a role in the franchise and ballpark as it …

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Davis deal creates window Orioles can’t squander

Posted on 16 January 2016 by Luke Jones

After years of clamoring for owner Peter Angelos to spend big money, Orioles fans finally got their wish on Saturday with first baseman Chris Davis agreeing to a seven-year, $161 million deal.

Even with the $42 million deferred without interest through 2037 easing the short-term burden, the contract nearly doubled the $85.5 million deal awarded to Adam Jones in 2012, which had been the richest in franchise history. No, Davis wasn’t cheap as many have criticized the length and money in the deal, especially with the apparent lack of competitors vying for his services. There’s little disputing the likelihood of the last few years of the deal not being pretty, but that’s the drawback of signing most marquee free agents in baseball.

In the end, the Orioles kept the most prolific home-run hitter in the majors over the last four seasons, and that’s something fans can rightfully celebrate, especially after watching the trio of Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, and Andrew Miller depart via free agency last offseason.

But what does this mean for 2016 and beyond? After all, you better be looking at the big picture when you’ve committed to paying an individual a total of $161 million through his 51st birthday.

No one can say the Orioles haven’t spent big money this offseason after giving a four-year, $31 million contract to a non-closer reliever — even if it is 2015 All-Star selection Darren O’Day — and now making a nine-figure investment in Davis. The problem is that paying incumbents more money doesn’t magically make them better players, nor can you expect them to be.

These are the types of moves a club makes when it’s going “all in” to try to win a championship, which is why fans can hope there’s more to come. There needs to be more, quite frankly.

Already with a franchise-record payroll — which also includes one-year deals of $15.8 million and $9.15 million for Matt Wieters and Mark Trumbo, respectively — the roster isn’t terribly different from where it stood at the end of 2015 with an 81-81 record. Swapping out starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and outfielder Gerardo Parra for Trumbo and Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim all but covers it.

The Orioles have the makings of a powerful lineup with a good infield defense and an excellent bullpen for 2016, but what about the starting pitching?

Bounce-back seasons from Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez and a breakthrough campaign by the young Kevin Gausman would go a long way in making up for the departure of Chen, but you’d still likely be looking at no more than an average starting rotation with a total question mark in the No. 5 spot. You can’t lose your top starter in a rotation that ranked 14th in the American League a year ago and expect to contend without doing something beyond crossing your fingers.

And Baltimore remains too vulnerable at the corner outfield spots — offensively and defensively — the same flaw that helped sink their fortunes a year ago.

The Orioles have spent plenty, but they have too many holes to be a serious pennant contender as presently constructed. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette doesn’t need to take the payroll to ridiculous lengths, mind you, but he needs a starting pitcher and another corner outfielder of some quality.

The organization needs to be all in — not just two-thirds of the way.

Spending long-term money on Davis and O’Day makes little sense if the Orioles aren’t going to do what it takes to try to get over the hump while making improvements to the farm system over the next three years. That’s how long the window figures to stay open with the current core before Manny Machado and Adam Jones are scheduled to hit free agency at the end of 2018.

Short of having a payroll more closely resembling the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees, you wouldn’t think the Orioles will have a great chance of keeping both Machado and Jones, so they need to be willing to spend a little more in the meantime while finding and developing young talent.

It’s up to ownership and management to determine whether the Davis signing means that they’ve merely kept a big-time power hitter and popular player on an OK club or that they are going to give themselves a good chance to win a championship. What amounts to a $42 million interest-free loan from Davis should provide the flexibility to do some more this offseason and over the next couple winters.

At the end of the day, putting yourself in position to try to win the World Series is what matters.

Re-signing Davis was a big step, but only if more is done to get there.

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Davis, Orioles agree to seven-year, $161 million

Posted on 16 January 2016 by Luke Jones

It took longer than they anticipated, but the Orioles are finally keeping their man.

After negotiations had stalled for weeks, first baseman Chris Davis agreed to a seven-year, $161 million contract on Saturday morning. The deal was first reported by CBS Sports after a standing offer of roughly $150 million was increased by owner Peter Angelos in talks with agent Scott Boras.

The does includes a limited no-trade clause and does not feature an opt-out, according to FOX Sports. However, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the deal includes $42 million in deferred money without interest, which should give the Orioles more financial flexibility to further augment the roster.

The 29-year-old Davis has hit 159 home runs over his four full seasons in Baltimore and led the majors in that category in 2013 and 2015, two seasons that sandwiched a horrendous campaign in which he hit .196 and was suspended 25 games for unauthorized Adderall use. The $161 million contract is the richest in Baltimore sports history and comes close to doubling the total amount the six-year, $85.5 million contract awarded to Adam Jones during the 2012 season.

The Orioles had appeared to move on from Davis a few days ago when interest in free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes increased. Baltimore had reportedly offered the 30-year-old a five-year, $90 million contract, but it was unclear how close the sides came to an agreement.

Entering the offseason with six free agents, the Orioles have now re-signed Davis and All-Star relief pitcher Darren O’Day to long-term deals and catcher Matt Wieters accepted a $15.8 million qualifying offer in November. Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and outfielder Gerardo Parra found news homes earlier this week while outfielder Steve Pearce remains unsigned.

The Davis deal is pending a physical.

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Orioles reportedly make offer to outfielder Cespedes

Posted on 14 January 2016 by Luke Jones

The Orioles are finally done waiting on Chris Davis.

Or at least they’re making it appear that way.

According to MASN, the Orioles have made an offer to free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a player they’ve reportedly shown interest in throughout the offseason. Specifics of the offer are unclear, making one wonder if this is a serious pursuit or just an attempt at a stronger signal to Davis and agent Scott Boras that the club is willing to move on.

ESPN reported that the Orioles are willing to offer up to five years and $90 million.

There has been no movement with Davis since the Orioles pulled a seven-year, $150 million last month, but little evidence had suggested the organization was truly moving on beyond periodic reports of interest in Cespedes and fellow free-agent outfielder Justin Upton. MASN also reported that Cespedes is the preference over the younger Upton, who could command more money and a longer commitment in addition to the forfeiture of the Orioles’ 2016 first-round pick to sign him.

Because he was traded last July, Cespedes was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer that would have attached draft compensation to his free agency.

Cespedes, 30, is coming off a career year in which he hit .291 with 35 home runs, 105 runs batted in, and an .870 on-base plus slugging percentage split between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Mets. The right-handed outfielder was worth a combined 6.3 wins above replacement in 2015, according to Baseball Reference.

The market has been tepid for outfielders this offseason, but Cespedes is a career .271 hitter with an .805 OPS in four major league seasons since defecting from Cuba in 2011. He also possesses a strong throwing arm and has played above-average defense in left field and is capable of playing center as well.

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