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The Baltimore Orioles agree to the most expensive contract in franchise history with first baseman Chris Davis. And we tell you why that’s a mistake.

By William Chase

Chris Davis has gotten paid.

Over the course of 7-years, for $161 million.

A bargain? Hardly.


So what exactly is the going-rate for first baseman who leads the world in home runs and strikeouts? Maybe the question should instead be, when is the last time a team won a World Series with anyone who led their league in home runs and strikeouts?

You would have to go back to 1971 when Pittsburgh Pirate’ great Willie Stargell led the National League in home runs with 48, and strikeouts with 154, the Pirates over the Orioles to win the Series.

Those 154 strikeouts are a modest figure compared to Davis’ 208 in 2015. The next closest is 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant who struck out 199 times.

By now, we know what we’re getting from Davis. Surely the Baltimore Orioles do:

A ton of home runs and a ton of strikeouts.

When you think of teams doling out millions upon millions for players, there’s certain expectations you have of that player.

The home runs are nice but can you really justify the strikeouts?

The two sides had stalled since December, and the O’s, exasperated at the stalling talks, decided to offer a contract to outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

For all the talk of why this is a good contract in retaining Davis, and not even bringing up the potential horror-story of giving a player who’s almost 30-years-old—Davis will turn 30 in March—a long-term contract, those will point out the Orioles still need a starting pitcher, and possibly even another bat.

The Orioles surely could have sank less than what it took to re-sign Davis, and use that money to fill two needs, maybe more.

The Baltimore Orioles ran away from the AL East in 2013 thanks in large part to the hot bat of outfielder Nelson Cruz, who in his one and only year with Baltimore, put up 40 home runs, striking out 140 times.

Davis, that year, led Baltimore with 173 strikeouts, and was third to Cruz and Adam Jones with 26 home runs.

Davis was suspended 25 games that same year, testing positive for amphetamines. He missed the entire playoffs, and those who wonder how the Orioles would have done with him?

It’s a moot point. They cruised by the Detroit Tigers—3-0 sweep—before getting swept themselves by the Kansas City Royals.

Davis could have won a game for Baltimore in that series, and things could have played out differently. We’re then remembering he was busted for taking an illegal drug, and even if he was able to come back in time for the playoffs and hit the game-winning home run, all is forgiven?

Well that scenario never saw the light of day. And yes, Nelson Cruz was also suspended for his part in the Biogensis case in 2013. It was this, that led to Cruz signing for just a 1-year deal worth $8 million for the 2014 season.

He was able to trade in his monster year in Baltimore for a 4-year, $57 million deal with the Seattle Mariners that offseason. A fair raise for Cruz, and maybe would have made made more if not for the PED offense two seasons earlier.

Davis was a non-factor on that O’s team when it mattered. Now he’s essentially the face of the franchise? Manny Machado, who more closely embodies that face-of-the-franchise tag, might be, should be that, if he gets his pay-day from Baltimore when he’s eligible to test the market following 2018.

The Davis signing is essentially a testament to ole-legend and former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver for his live and die by the three-run homer philosophy.

The 2004 Chicago White Sox scrapped its power for speed, and won on small-ball, or smart-ball as then-manager Ozzie Guillen called it. Strikeouts only improved by the slimmest of margins:

1,030: 2004
1,002: 2005

They hit 242 home runs in 2004, which finished tied for first in MLB with the New York Yankees, and still finished top five in MLB in 2005 with 200 homers. Their stolen base production increased from 18th to 4th. Overall, their philosophy for winning games and change of culture produced the clubs’ first World Series title since 1917.

Not saying Baltimore can’t win the World Series and that Davis can’t be a huge part of it. But as everyone mentions, Baltimore still needs more.

Mark Trumbo was acquired in an offseason trade last month with the Seattle Mariners, and is more than capable of playing first base, while hitting for production. Trumbo is not Davis, but Trumbo is also not the strain on the pocketbook.

The most essential upgrades the Orioles planned on was shoring up the starting rotation. The team is now pressed more than ever with filling the vacancy of Wei-Yin Chen, who left for the Miami Marlins.

Far be it for me to tell the Orioles how to spend their money. Just seems like they could have probably gotten more bang for their buck.

Let this be a lesson for the next time you balk and all but move on from a potential free agent. Either follow through on that and move on, or at least be sure you don’t outbid yourself in the end.

Congrats Mr. Davis. You win.

NEXT: Mets Need To Sign Yoenis Cespedes

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William Chase is editor at Elite Sports NY, and has been featured on such prominent websites including Bleacher Report. William is also currently the Marketing & Media Relations Intern for the Augusta GreenJackets.