And it is no coincidence that the Orioles are now becoming more closely linked to free-agent outfielders Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes, according to reports. After Davis, Upton and Cespedes are the best power bats remaining on the market.
The Orioles definitely have interest in the two, according to sources, but it still appears that barring a dramatic fall in their market, Upton and Cespedes are more considered fallback options in case the Orioles can’t re-sign Davis.
As their attempt to retain Davis remains stagnant, the Orioles are making good on their promise to pursue other options beyond Davis.
The Orioles stand by the seven-year, $150 million offer they made to Davis earlier this offseason as a fair-market deal, one that would easily be the largest in club history. Even though the club says it took the offer off the table, it’s still there for Davis if he chooses to take it. But there has been little movement toward a deal with Davis, even as the calendar has turned to 2016 and the days counting down to spring training are diminishing.
The team’s interest in Upton and Cespedes could also be a tactical move by the Orioles to let Davis know they’re willing to spend a portion of payroll that was earmarked for him elsewhere. But much like with Davis, a clear market for Upton and Cespedes has yet to develop, and the Orioles aren't expected to go near the $100 million mark on either player. Keep in mind that the Orioles still haven't addressed their rotation needs and would ideally like to add not one, but two starters.
Because of that, there’s still plenty of time for those two sluggers to wait out the market -- and Davis’ decision -- to get more clarity as to their market value. If Davis signs elsewhere, there’s no doubt the Orioles’ pursuit of Upton and Cespedes would intensify.
On Wednesday, news broke that Alex Gordon -- one of the other top free-agent bats on the market -- had agreed to terms on a four-year, $72 million deal to remain with the Royals. One would think Gordon coming off the free-agent board could trigger more movement.
It also shows how quickly the market can change. A week ago, it appeared unlikely that the Royals would be able to re-sign Gordon, who was tied to a compensatory draft pick if he signed elsewhere.
The Orioles would forfeit their first-round pick next year if they signed Upton, who received a qualifying offer from the San Diego Padres. That wouldn’t be the case for Cespedes, who was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the New York Mets at the nonwaiver trade deadline, and therefore wasn’t eligible for a qualifying offer.