If the Orioles won't improve their offer to first baseman Chris Davis — and, at this point, they haven't — don't expect the club to offer a similar financial package to the remaining big fish free agents.
According to an industry source, roughly $150 million was earmarked for Davis only. And, with his rejection of that seven-year offer last week, the Orioles are highly unlikely to entertain any deals with a $100-million value or more for the remainder of the offseason.
That seemingly takes the Orioles out of consideration for outfielders Justin Upton, Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes, all of whom were predicted by Mlbtraderumors.com to receive at least $100 million deals at the outset of free agency.
Given the eye-popping escalation of starting pitching deals this winter, lefty Wei-Yin Chen and right-hander Mike Leake also potentially could approach or exceed nine-figure deals this winter. If that were to occur, it would put them out of reach, too. Chen, who made roughly $16 million in his previous four years with the Orioles, has been considered too pricey to warrant a return to Baltimore since the offseason began.
Leake and Chen may end up closer to the $80-$90 million mark this winter, but they likely will land five-year deals, and that seemingly removes them from the Orioles' radar as well.
The Orioles have been reluctant to give four-year deals to free-agent pitchers in the past, though they've done it twice in the last two years, for Ubaldo Jimenez (four years, $50 million in 2014) and reliever Darren O'Day (four years, $31 million this month). Five years, though, hasn't happened.
They are still pursuing starting pitchers, but offering more than a four-year deal for what's left on the market is unlikely at best.
There was hope among the fan base that if the Orioles didn't agree to a deal with Davis, that money would be shifted toward a player like Upton.
But according to an industry source, managing partner Peter Angelos stepped out of his comfort zone to make the club-record offer because of what Davis has meant to the franchise and community since coming here as part of a trade from Texas in 2011. It was, in part, a reward for his past successes as well as an admission that Davis' prodigious power — he has homered more over the last four seasons than any other player — is a rare commodity.
Those concessions wouldn't be the case for other incoming free agents.
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Traditionally, Angelos has avoided giving out top-market deals to players because he believes the trend of $20-million and $30-million annual salaries is pushing Major League Baseball away from the typical, middle-class consumer that attends games. The club prides itself in providing affordable family entertainment, especially compared to many other professional sports franchises.
The Orioles' highest-paid player for 2016 is center fielder Adam Jones, who signed a club record, six-year $85.5 million deal in 2012 — which is now viewed as exceptionally team-friendly.
Although the Orioles could surpass their franchise-record $119 million payroll in 2015, the 2016 club has just four players scheduled to make more than $10 million: Jones ($16.3 million), catcher Matt Wieters ($15.8 million), Jimenez ($13 million) and shortstop J.J. Hardy ($12.5 million).
And, unless things change with Davis, the Orioles won't have a player hitting that $20 million per year mark next year.
Club executive vice president Dan Duquette said Saturday that he had withdrawn the offer to Davis and didn't have immediate plans to continue negotiations, an assertion that was refuted by Davis' agent Scott Boras, who said the Orioles remained one of the suitors for his client.