There’s a limit as to how far one should go to pay for a player and $200 million might be a tad too far. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch wanted to spend that much money on Chris Davis alone, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball. The reason this deal wasn’t done was because GM Al Avila nixed the idea.
Davis went on to sign a seven-year/$161 million deal while the Tigers signed Justin Upton to a six year deal worth $132.75 million.
Over at Bless You Boys, Catherine Slonksnis says
Upton had his issues this year, but he became a terror to opposing teams as the season wore on. He put together a 142 wRC+ in the second half, sixth-best among American League outfielders, and his .383 wOBA ranked fifth. Contrast that with his 77 wRC+ and .288 wOBA in the first half, both of which were sixth- and eighth-worst in all of baseball, respectively.
In addition, Slonksnis points out that Upton’s contract has an opt-out clause after two years.
Davis hit 38 home runs this season, but also recorded a league leading 219 strikeouts—leading the league in strikeouts is something he’s done two years in a row now. In 2016, he had a 111 wRC+ overall and a 95 wRC+ in the second half. His .340 wOBA is only above average; when his first half wOBA is .358 and his second half is .317, you start to think about how Davis could end up regressing as years go on.
Speaking of regression, Davis is turning 31 in March. While the power may be there for a while, as Davis ages, he’ll certainly decline. But how much he will decline is up in the air. And having him signed to a deal up to 2022 might prove to be detrimental to the Orioles’ roster. He does have a limited no-trade protection, though, so it’s always a possibility he could get traded. That, then, brings up the issue of how much his trade value is or if he’ll end up just being a throw-in in a package deal.
Avila certainly made the right move in not signing Davis to a deal as ludicrous as the Tigers’ owner wanted, but the Orioles could possibly see a decline in Davis’ production in the years to come.