NASHVILLE, TENN. — The Orioles have made an offer to retain free-agent slugger Chris Davis, but the deal would be worth no more than $22 million a year, an industry source said.
The Orioles have been more active this offseason than past years, and they've said they will be able to increase payroll for the fourth consecutive year.
Nearly half of the 30 major league clubs have a player who makes an annual average salary of $22 million or more. The Orioles' highest-paid player, center fielder Adam Jones, makes an average of $14.25 million.
Davis will undoubtedly make more than Jones, but how much? And how much does Davis truly want to remain in Baltimore?
ESPN on Wednesday reported that the Orioles have made Davis a seven-year, $150 million offer, which would average $21.42 million a year.
The Orioles aren't willing to go beyond the $22 million a year mark, according to a source, which seems to be what Scott Boras, Davis' agent, is looking for.
Even without Davis, the Orioles payroll for next season would be more than $100 million, a level that the club didn't reach until three years ago.
The Orioles are engaged in a poker game with Boras. They've made their offer and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has made it clear that the club has made contingency plans to pursue for other left-handed bats on the trade and free-agent markets if Davis does not re-sign.
Making an offer of this magnitude indicates their willigness to spend an unprecedented amount. The Orioles' largest deal to date was Jones' six-year, $85.5 million contract extension signed in 2012.
In the cases when the Orioles have been willing to spend, it has been on known commodities. Davis has been a major piece in the club's resurgence and he's a fan favorite. If they are going to go beyond their previous spending boundaries, it is more likely to be on a player like Davis than a free agent from another organization.
Three of the Orioles' four largest contracts were given to players already on the club. Jones and shortstop J.J. Hardy were signed to extensions. Matt Wieters accepted a one-year qualifying offer this offseason. The only exception is right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who came from the Cleveland Indians after signing a four-year, $50 million free-agent deal.
Davis has not received other offers, suggesting the slugger wants to return to Baltimore.