How much pressure is on the Orioles to re-sign Chris Davis? Probably a lot. Some fans are stirred up that the Orioles won 15 fewer games last year, a season that began without two key free agents from the previous year in Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz.
There is a segment of the fan base that doesn’t want to see another key Oriole leave the nest. There have even been fans calling talk shows and writing on blogs like this one, saying they will not to go games if Davis leaves.
But the Orioles have a few keys things to consider - not only for next year, but several years to follow after that. They need to add to their starting rotation, preferably a top-of-the-rotation talent. They need to sign Manny Machado to a long-term contract at some point. Can they sign Davis, add a frontline starter and lock up Machado for the future? Can they truly do all three with a middle-of-the-pack payroll? Can they even do two of the three?
Perhaps they can.
Returning Davis to the middle of the order, while also adding a quality starter, would be a great start toward the Orioles contending in 2016. If the club could then also get some bounceback performances from pitchers like Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, they very likely would be poised to make another run at the American League East championship.
But even with that, they still need to shore up the bullpen, and there is the issue of Darren O’Day’s free agency and leadership. Who doesn’t want him back? There is the issue again of the corner outfielders. Will they look to add there?
If the club doesn’t have an offseason that quiets some fans, what will that mean? Do the outspoken fans that call the talk shows speak for those that don’t? How does the fan base truly feel?
As someone who has hosted many such shows over a few years, I would never base the feeling of 100 percent of the fans off a few that call shows or make comments on message boards. For me, they don’t speak for everyone. But right now, the group of fans venting over a .500 season and potential loss of free agents like Davis is the one we are hearing from the most. Does the club need to make moves to satisfy the angry fans?
While I think there are plenty of very good reasons to re-sign Davis, I also am aware of these facts:
* In 2014, Davis hit .196 with 26 homers and 72 RBIs and the Orioles won 96 games.
* In 2015, Davis hit .262 with 47 homers and 117 RBIs and the Orioles won 81 games.
What was the difference? It was the starting pitching, which ranked fifth in the AL in ERA at 3.61 to lead the club to a division title but fell to 14th this year at 4.53.
Since the 2012 season, Davis ranks first in the majors in homers (159) and fourth in RBIs (412). Davis ranks ninth in slugging (.533) and 15th in OPS (.876) since the start of the 2012 season. His bat is one of the most productive from a power standpoint over that four-year stretch.
But if giving Davis a huge contract keeps the organization from making other key moves or hinders them from doing so, the Orioles have some tough decisions to make. The fan base is stirred up, predicting a return to season after season of losing baseball.
The Orioles front office is heading into a critical time. The next few months will certainly not be boring.