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Orioles' offer to Chris Davis, thoughts on Denard Span, more at winter meetings

Orioles beat reporter Eduardo A. Encina talks about the reported deal offered to Chris Davis by the Baltimore Orioles. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun video)

NASHVILLE, TENN. — This year's winter meetings will conclude today with the Rule 5 draft at 10 a.m.

As the Orioles have in all four previous years under executive vice president Dan Duquette, they are expected to participate.

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The Orioles have made first baseman Chris Davis an unprecedented offer to stay in Baltimore -- reportedly in the seven-year, $150 million range.

Over the past few days, I've written a lot about how the Orioles would need a change in philosophy to retain Davis. So, it was interesting to hear Duquette acknowledge Wednesday that the Orioles' offer to Davis does in fact extend them outside of their traditional comfort zone.

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"I think you have to weigh that length of the contract in the term for every situation," Duquette said. "I mean, the club's tolerance has been more along the lines of four, five and six years. But I think you have to weigh that for each player."

That says a lot. Not only does it tell you how much the Orioles value Davis, and ensuring his return, but it tells us how much the club is attempting to keep its own players.

Yes, this is a team that let Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis walk a year ago, but I think this offer shows that the Orioles learned from those miscues. A team that allowed the majors' home run leader to walk for a second straight year without making a legitimate play for him would open itself up to immense criticism.

Now, whether Davis stays or goes, the Orioles can be comfortable telling their fans they tried. That maybe wasn't the case in previous years.

As for whether a deal with Davis gets done soon, who knows?

"I don't know," Duquette said. "I would never say never, but there's a lot of things that go into these multiyear commitments."

Scott Boras wants multiyear deal for Denard Span

Agent Scott Boras fielded numerous questions in his annual media scrum Wednesday afternoon – several about Davis – but also regarding many of his other clients.

One that stood out to me was when Boras rebuffed the notion that free-agent outfielder Denard Span could accept a one-year offer.

Span, who will be 32 next season, played in just 61 games in 2015. He underwent sports hernia surgery last December, needed another procedure in March, missed time with back spasms and was shut down in August for season-ending hip surgery.

When he was healthy, Span performed well. He hit .301/.365/.431 in 246 at-bats. Boras noted that Span hit .300 each of the past two years and has averaged more than 20 steals.

"There aren't a lot of athletes in the game today that are hitting at those levels and giving you center-field defense and stealing bases," Boras said. "It's been really something that has fallen off in baseball over the last decade or so."

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The Orioles definitely have interest in Span. Boras also entertained the notion that Span could get a four-year deal this offseason, which the Orioles would in no way be interested in given his recent injury history. They've studied his medicals rigorously. But the Orioles remain intrigued by Span.

If he does go untouched, the Orioles would love to jump in on a one-year deal with Span. He would provide a left-handed bat to balance the lineup, fill an outfield hole and could bat leadoff (allowing Manny Machado to move to the middle of the order). His career .352 on-base percentage would help a major area of need.

And Duquette loves one-year deals for players who have something to prove. Span definitely qualifies there.

Looking at the Rule 5 draft

While we're talking about outfielders, I wouldn't be surprised if the Orioles take an outfielder in today's Rule 5 draft.

The Orioles typically like to take pitching in the Rule 5 – the selected Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett last year and T.J. McFarland three years ago. But Dylan Bundy's situation will make it difficult for the Orioles to carry an extra inexperienced arm in the bullpen. Bundy must be carried on the 25-man roster because he's out of minor league options.

So if an athletic outfielder is on the board when they make their selection, expect the Orioles to bite. It would help if he's left-handed, too.

They could use some extra speed on their bench. They added outfielder L.J. Hoes in a trade with the Houston Astros -- Hoes stole 26 bases in Triple-A last year -- but wouldn't shun taking another outfielder with some base-running capabilities.

Remember last year, when the Texas Rangers selected outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. from the Astros with the third pick in the Rule 5 draft, one pick before the Orioles acquired Garcia with Houston's pick.

After five years in the minors, DeShields had never played above Double-A, but speed and the ability to get on base sometimes more easily translate to the big league level.

DeShields hit .261/.344/.374 with 25 stolen bases in 425 at-bats for the Rangers, giving a playoff team a left-handed leadoff bat with speed.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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