Thoughts on Chris Davis’ price tag and more free agent musings

We hit on a variety of topics yesterday on “Wall to Wall Baseball” on MASN, including the Orioles’ qualifying offers to three of their free agents and speculation on the types of contracts they could receive.

First baseman Chris Davis is lined up to get one of the most bloated deals this winter. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman predicted that Davis will receive $182 million over seven years. MLBTradeRumors.com predicted that Davis will net $144 million over six years.

His price already is dropping.

Seriously though, that’s a significant financial commitment to one player, especially with the Orioles needing upgrades in the rotation and outfield and wanting to improve their catching depth and needing to give raises to their arbitration-eligible players. No wonder negotiating an extension for third baseman Manny Machado has become a back-burner issue.

MLBTradeRumors.com projects Davis as the No. 5 free agent on the market and has him going to the Cardinals, who in turn would lose outfielder Jason Heyward to the Yankees on a 10-year, $200 million deal.

I’m still scratching my head over that projection for Heyward, but let’s remain focused on Davis.

It still isn’t my money, but I’d most certainly be fine with giving Davis the contract that the Cardinals supposedly are willing to hand over, and I’d bite the bullet and go seven/$182 million if necessary.

To me, it’s just smart business. It’s a commitment to spending what’s necessary and keeping a popular player who’s going to generate revenue via season-ticket renewals and fans attending instead of revolting. It also sends a message to the team and other free agents. And oh yeah, he’s led the majors in home runs two of the last three seasons and plays a good first base, along with the occasional starts in right field.

Chris Davis back white.jpgCan the Orioles afford to keep Davis? I ask whether they can afford not to.

Maybe I’m just being selfish and don’t want to be subjected to the fallout from the Orioles letting Davis walk.

Here’s the other point we were trying to make yesterday on the show: Davis can always be traded within those six or seven years. The Tigers traded Prince Fielder, the Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, the Phillies traded Cole Hamels, the Rockies traded Troy Tulowitzki, the Marlins traded Jose Reyes.

MLBTradeRumors.com has Wei-Yin Chen going to the Tigers on a five-year, $80 million deal, dwarfing the franchise-record four-year, $50 million contract the Orioles gave Ubaldo Jimenez. The Nationals are projected to sign catcher Matt Wieters for $64 million over four years, though I’ll repeat that I’ve heard they aren’t interested in him.

The Orioles have three free agents among the top 15.

Outfielder Gerardo Parra, at No. 32, is projected to receive a three-year, $27 million contract from the Nationals. Reliever Darren O’Day, at No. 33, is projected to receive a three-year, $22.5 million contract from the Red Sox.

I think O’Day could squeeze a fourth year out of somebody as arguably the best reliever on the market. There’s no reason for the Orioles to shy away from three/$22.5 million, especially if they don’t re-sign Davis.

Steve Pearce, at No. 43, is expected to receive a two-year, $14 million contract from the Rangers. The Orioles want to keep him and guaranteeing two years isn’t outrageous despite his past injuries, but $14 million?

So, who are the Orioles projected to sign? For starters - pun intended - it’s left-hander Scott Kazmir to a four-year, $52 million contract. My guess is they won’t want to go that far for Kazmir after having only mild interest in him a few winters ago, though he was a 15-game winner with the Athletics in 2014 and registered a 2.38 ERA with them in 18 starts this season before being traded to the Astros and going 2-6 with a 4.17 ERA in 13 games.

Kazmir was ineligible for a qualifying offer, so the Orioles wouldn’t have to surrender a draft pick.

The Orioles also are tabbed to sign John Jaso to a two-year, $12 million contract and Justin Morneau to a one-year, $8 million deal.

Jaso is so one-dimensional, he should wear No. 1 on his uniform. He’s a left-handed designated hitter who would need to be platooned, though he’s caught and played eight games in the outfield. He’s a career .178/.309/.232 hitter against left-handers, with only one of his 37 career home runs.

I’m on board only if we could have Machado’s salsa and Jaso’s queso. Someone would need to jump on that idea.

Morneau won a batting title with the Rockies in 2014, but he was limited to 49 games this season due to concussion symptoms and a neck injury. He has a career .349 on-base percentage and is a career .315/.389/.477 hitter in 30 games at Camden Yards.

Would fans accept Morneau as Davis’ replacement or would fireworks nights be replaced with the sound of heads exploding? That would be a tough sell for me, but I’d be fine with having both of them on the roster.

Ben Zobrist is projected to receive a three-year, $51 million contract from the Yankees. The Orioles love the guy, but he may have priced himself out of Baltimore, as they feared.

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