In light of the tremendous success of last week’s edition of Let’s Find a Home — for which we took about 20 minutes to send Johnny Cueto eagerly off to San Francisco — I thought it would be right neighborly to take on a different, lonely, sad free agent this holiday season. So, people, won’t you help me find a new happy home for Chris Davis? He’s tall, he hits homers, and he is completely potty trained! Adoption fees start at $150 million.
There’s an alternate reality somewhere out beyond our galaxy (yes, I saw Star Wars a few days ago) where Chris Davis is taking one year “rebuild his value” offers from a few teams after another unsuccessful season. In that galaxy, Chris Davis is Mike Napoli, and when he signs, it doesn’t merit a press conference, only a few lines from his new manager amidst discussion of other business. That’s where things were headed for Davis after 2014. He was worth not quite a full win that season, batting below .200, just reaching a .300 on-base percentage, and slugging a hearty (for a middle infielder) .404. This came following a seven win season. Seven! Wins! Chris Davis posted a seven win season then wasn’t worth a single win the next season. Ahhhh baseball!
Then last season, Davis was worth 5.6 wins. Ahhhh baseball reprise! Chris Davis is your friend who insists on driving but doesn’t understand the subtlety required by brake and acceleration pedals. His car lurches forward off the line then, as soon as he sees anyone slowing in front of him, he slams on the breaks. Can you pay that guy like he’s a champion race-car driver?
That’s the question with Davis. Because of his up and down seasons — and, like most free agents, his age (30 next season) — there’s a real chance you’re going to get next to nothing for your money. Of course, that possibility exists for every free agent — hello Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez! — but usually it’s not outlined so starkly. Then again, the thought of adding 50 homers to the middle of a lineup is enticing, as well, and that’s likely exactly what the team that signs Davis will mention repeatedly at the press conference.
Davis is a Scott Boras client and Boras has already made the following statements about Davis:
- Davis is the best free agent available.
- Davis can play the outfield.
- Davis has a pet monkey named Stevey Bananas.
Given it’s still December, we’re not yet in the Stephen Drew/Kendrys Morales desperation portion of the off-season, so don’t expect Davis’s asking price to be anything but huge. Still, Boras isn’t wrong. His client has totaled, even with the 0.8 win 2014 season, 13.4 wins over the past three seasons combined, and in an odd way, the way he’s done it allows interested clubs to dream on the big season even more. So, who has the money, the need, and… well, that’s it really. The money and the need. Who has them?
The Obvious and Needy and Likely
As Davis’s once and possibly future team, Baltimore has a spot open for him, and with the departures of Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Hunter, and a collection of lesser-paid players, they have money available. In fact, the Orioles are about the only team that has seriously been mentioned as a realistic home for Davis. Look up Davis on MLB Trade Rumors and you’ll find the Orioles and then a collection of teams specifically stating they aren’t interested. The Orioles may, if the rumor mills are to be believed, be negotiating against themselves, a losing proposition if ever one existed. That realization is possibly why they’ve resisted upping their offer recently. Still, a team hoping to compete in a division with the AL East champion Blue Jays and the potentially resurgent Red Sox would do well not to lose a five- to seven-win 50-homer first baseman.
This is the most logical destination. The need exists, the money exists, and for whatever little bit it’s worth, the player is clearly comfortable with the team and the city. Given I’m writing this article, expect Davis to sign momentarily.
The Obvious and Needy and Unlikely
The Cardinals are playing down their desire to bring in any big name, high priced players. It could be because they’ve been jilted by the likes of David Price and Jason Heyward and they’re feeling sad and not a little bit angry. All high-school kids can relate, I’m sure. But it’s also possible they don’t see Davis as an asset long-term. Giving a guy $150 million only works if you think he’s both good and will remain so for the foreseeable future and it’s possible the Cardinals don’t feel that way about Davis. Still, St. Louis has the money, and they have the need after losing John Lackey and Heyward to the division-rival Chicago Cubs. Whether Davis is their kind of guy, though, that remains to be seen.
The Less Needy but Kinda Needy and Also Obvious but Unlikely
Like the Cardinals, the Red Sox seem poised to sit on whatever money they have left. That makes them an unlikely suitor. But, it must be acknowledged, they have a need. Hanley Ramirez, their perspective first baseman, is neither a first baseman in word nor deed. What’s more, he hit terribly last season. His defense got more press (including here), but he also finished the season with an atrocious .249/.291/.426 batting line. It’s no secret the Red Sox would love to get rid of him, but if they did so they’d suddenly be without a first baseman. Sure, Travis Shaw could be that guy, but that’s about as much of a sure thing as Hanley, and the Red Sox aren’t the sort of team to hand a starting spot over to someone bad unless they’ve forced themselves to do so. The end result is, if the Red Sox were somehow able to drop Hanley onto someone else’s lap, they’d need another starting first baseman, and as long as Davis is out there, he’ll be the best one available.
Toronto lost David Price to those thieves down south, but they weren’t likely to be swimming in those waters anyway. Still, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will be free agents following this season so they’ll have money to play with and it’s possible that the Jays would prefer to pay Davis now, DH Encarnacion full time, and have the three of them in the order together, even if for one season. It makes some sense if you forget that the Jays never, ever spend $150 million or more on free agents.
The Generally Needy but Not Specifically Needy and Unlikely
The Dodgers have money! And yet it seems nobody will take it. They also have a first baseman in Adrian Gonzalez, but so what? They’re the Dodgers!
That’s about all I got on this one.
Of course not, but wouldn’t it be fun? It sure would!
Despite all the posturing, there’s at least some chance Davis doesn’t end up in Baltimore. The Orioles are volatile like that. And if he doesn’t go there, then who knows where he goes? There’s no obvious stop. After Baltimore, the Cardinals and Red Sox are at the top of this list, but I highly doubt he goes to either team given the way they’ve conducted their off-seasons to date. So I offer the “Everyone Else” catch-all designation for your amusement. Maybe Davis will sign with the Yankees! Maybe he’ll play for the Mariners! Who knows!
But it’s probably Baltimore, right? Right.