The Orioles plan to re-sign at least some of their impending free agents, GM Dan Duquette told fans and reporters at an annual event including Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore. Duquette highlighted one power hitter by name, saying “we do want to sign some of our key players for the future, and Chris Davis is one of them.” In addition to Davis, Baltimore currently has seven impending free agents including Matt Wieters, Wei-Yin Chen, Gerardo Parra, Darren O’Day, Steve Pearce, and Nolan Reimold. The club probably can’t sign them all, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
Specifically regarding Davis, the Orioles may have to compete in a thin market for first baseman. Our free agent tracker lists just eight potential free agents at the position. Of those, Edwin Encarnacion will be retained unless he sustains a major injury. Justin Morneau also has an affordable $9MM option although he has missed most of the 2015 season with injury. Mike Napoli and Pearce are probably the next biggest names at the position.
The lack of free agent first basemen could push Davis’ value north of $100MM, according to Mike Petriello of FanGraphs. The 29-year-old is in the midst of his second best season, slashing .257/.341/.541 with 32 home runs. However, Davis showed last year that there is some downside to his power happy approach. The club may have to weigh whether it makes better sense to commit to Davis or sign multiple other players.
Among the other free agents, Wieters, Chen, and O’Day will be the most difficult to replace. Wieters, 29, missed the early portion of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s battled a few nagging injuries since his return. He appeared to be breaking out in 2014 prior to sustaining the elbow injury. This season, his strikeout rate has spiked to 24.6 percent – up from a career average of 18.7 percent. It’s worth wondering if that number will regress with full health.
MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote about Chen recently in a free agent profile, comparing his potential earnings to Bronson Arroyo, Jason Vargas, and Ricky Nolasco. Including inflation, that would seem to peg him for a two to four year deal worth about $12MM to $14MM per season. The Orioles plan to make Chen a qualifying offer, per CBS’ Jon Heyman. That may affect the market for his services.