Orioles beat reporter Eduardo A. Encina talks about baseball's winter meetings and the Orioles' interest in Chris Davis. (Eduardo Encina, Baltimore Sun video)
Despite many stories of free agents finding new homes flowing through the lobby and the top-floor team and agent suites of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center throughout the first two days of winter meetings, Chris Davis' name hasn't been spoken often.
There's been little word of movement on the Davis front this week in the Music City, setting up the makings of what's appearing to become an intriguing poker play between the Orioles and Davis' agent, Scott Boras.
The Orioles met with Boras on Tuesday afternoon, and there was little progress made in the club's effort to retain the top power bat on the free-agent market, according to an industry source. Executive vice president Dan Duquette indicated as much on Tuesday night.
"We always keep the dialogue ongoing, but there's nothing new, really," Duquette said.
Meanwhile, Duquette conceded that the team's search for a left-handed bat is taking them elsewhere. They've been exploring the trade market, and they've been linked to veteran left-handed hitters like the Milwaukee Brewers' Adam Lind and the Texas Rangers' Mitch Moreland, both players who would seem to be good fits at Camden Yards.
Duquette said the Orioles met with two teams regarding trades on Tuesday, but wouldn't say who.
Boras is typically content with waiting out the market until he finds a deal he likes, and he usually scores a jackpot for his clients. The seven-year, $210-million contract Max Scherzer received from the Nationals last Jan. 21 just the latest example of Boras' late-offseason success stories.
But Duquette said Tuesday that the Orioles will reach a point when they can no longer wait on Davis.
"I think for the clubs and the players you have to decide at some point where you're going to play ball and who's going to be on your team and the winter meetings is one of the threshold times for players to decide where they're going to play and for the clubs to set up their teams," Duquette said. "We're getting closer to decision time."
The Orioles are interested in other Boras clients — they like non-tendered slugger Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Denard Span, both left-handed hitters — but Duquette said most of his discussion with Boras centered around Davis.
In Duquette's eyes, the Orioles have made their interest in keeping Davis clear. Meanwhile, no other teams have been linked to Davis here in Nashville, and Duquette has said each of the past two nights that he doesn't know what kind of interest is out there on Davis.
"I really don't know what the market is," Duquette said. "I know that we're trying to add left-handed hitters to our ballclub and we've been aggressive in pursuing a couple options. So we're going to have to make a choice pretty soon.
"We have a clear idea of what the market is on Chris in Baltimore," Duquette added. "That's clear."
The Orioles want to keep Davis in orange and black. And any deal to keep him in Baltimore would unquestionably be the largest in club history, surpassing Adam Jones' six-year, $85.5-million extension signed in 2012.
The Orioles realize Davis will cost a lot, and ownership wants to keep him. But the organization isn't comfortable going into the $150-$175 million range for Davis, and this early in the offseason, with the free-agent dollars flowing, Boras would undoubtedly be looking upwards of that. Boras hasn't made any public comments this week, but usually addresses the media sometime during the meetings.
Right now, the Orioles appear willing to look somewhere else and prepare for life after Davis. They've already traded for right-handed slugger Mark Trumbo, who could play first, and Duquette is always quick to point out that first base prospects Christian Walker and Trey Mancini are waiting in the wings in the minors.
Perhaps the most telling words from Duquette came on one of his shortest of many thought-out answers about the day's activities, when he was asked whether adding a left-handed bat would still allow room for Davis.