As soon as the last out of World Series is made, six Orioles become free agents. The club then has five days to work out contract extensions before players can begin negotiating with other teams.
Rarely do players sign during that exclusive period, and Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said recently that he expected all six to test the market.
Here's a six-part look, in alphabetical order, at each Orioles free agent's prospects and a prediction of the likelihood that they return. On this scale, a 1 signifies the lowest chances and a 10 the highest.
Name: Chris Davis
Position: Left-handed-hitting first baseman, right fielder, designated hitter
2015 stats: .262/.361/.562, 47 homers, 117 RBIs
2015 salary: $12 million
Qualifying-offer possibility: Definite
Prospects heading into free agency: Off the charts. No player had more to lose with a poor 2015, and no one stepped up more impressively than Davis. He again led the majors in homers and showed he could hit for average and get on base at a strong clip. Now his awful 2014, in which he batted .196 and was suspended 25 games for unauthorized Adderall use, looks like the outlier, not his 53-homer 2013. He also improved his free-agent stock by making 29 starts in right field and playing the position adequately. Always considered a good athlete, Davis could be pursued by teams that don't have a need at first but would use him in right without hesitation. His new team would have to deal with his streakiness and propensity for striking out, but those are not unusual traits for sluggers.
Why he'll stay an Oriole: Sometimes a player and a city, even apparently mismatched ones, just fit. Davis is a big fella from Texas who dreamed of playing for the Rangers, and spent three-plus seasons doing so. But he bounced between the major and minor leagues and never achieved their desired consistency. After being traded to the Orioles in July 2011, he got the chance he was looking for in Baltimore under manager Buck Showalter, and things clicked. He became a fan favorite, a two-time Most Valuable Oriole and a key part of the team's resurgence. After the Orioles allowed Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis to leave last offseason, Davis' potential departure has become the hot-button issue with fans this summer and fall, with many threatening to turn their backs on the club if Davis signs elsewhere. So the pressure is really on the Orioles to keep him. It won't affect his overall value much, but he'll also be offered and reject a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer, meaning that any team that signs him must forfeit a compensatory draft pick to the Orioles.
Why he'll leave the Orioles: Millions and millions of reasons. Davis has earned an exorbitant payday with his power, one of baseball's most treasured commodities. He has hit 159 homers over the past four seasons, more than any other player in that span. How much is that worth? Conservatively, Davis could get a five-year deal worth about $125 million. But a six- or seven-year deal worth between $150 million and $200 million is more likely. The largest contract in Orioles history is Adam Jones' six-year, $85.5 million contract, which he signed in 2012. Agent Scott Boras always seems to find one team willing to make a major investment in his elite clients. An interesting comparison is Mark Teixeira (Mount Saint Joseph), a former client of Boras' who landed an eight-year, $180 million deal with the New York Yankees in 2009, months before his 29th birthday.
Best landing spot: Anywhere. Really, there's no team that wouldn't want to pencil in 40 homers next season, although there doesn't seem to be one perfect fit. Houston would be interesting if the Astros wanted to add to a strength — awesome power — and supplement their young roster with a veteran who has been through the game's ups and downs. And it would send Davis back to Texas. A reunion with Cruz in Seattle would make the Mariners offense formidable. And you can't rule out Boras casting a spell on a deep-pocketed owner in places like Detroit, New York or Los Angeles. It all comes down to which club will pay what it takes to get perhaps the best power force in the game.
Dan Connolly's scale of return: 4