By: Jordan Cope, Assistant Sports Editor
The Baltimore Orioles coughed up the dough last week and signed free agent first baseman Chris Davis to the richest contract in franchise history worth $161 million over the course of seven years. While the signing has the Baltimore fanbase buzzing, the contract has crushed the Orioles bank, triggering the question of the offseason: is Davis worth this much money?
Career, Davis has batted .255 with 203 home runs and 549 RBI.
There is no doubt about it, Davis can crank out the longball and drive in runs, but with just a .255 career batting average the 29-year-old has a pedestrian .330 career on base percentage, a very underrated stat in today’s game.
O’s fans also know that Davis has a problem, he has little to no discipline at the plate and, in turn, is prone to striking out. In four of his five years in Baltimore, Davis has struck out over 100 times. Last season, Davis struck out over 200 times and in 2013 was just one punch out shy of 200.
Aside from a statistical standpoint, Davis’ new contract has handcuffed the Orioles in the free agent market for this year and likely years to come.
This is by far the biggest problem with Davis’ new contract.
Last season, the Orioles ranked 25th out of 30 teams in team pitching statistics as the team’s starters went just 51-62 with a 4.53 ERA. Let’s not forget Wei-Yin Chen, who had the best ERA of any starting pitcher on the Baltimore staff, has departed for Miami in free agency.
The Orioles are also lacking big in the corner outfield positions after the departure of right fielder Nick Markakis two years ago, and the departure of left fielder Gerado Para this season.
As it seems to be every year, the Orioles need pitching help and there will be a revolving door in the corner outfield positions.
Now, unless Baltimore makes another splash in the free agent market or makes a trade in the remainder of the offseason, Davis’ new contract has a firm grasp of the team’s pocketbook.
And how could we forget about the young star Manny Machado, who’s coming into his own as a ballplayer in this league?
In just four seasons, the 23-year-old third basemen has batted .281 with 215 RBI, not to mention a pair of gold gloves.
For the next two seasons, Machado will be arbitration eligible and in 2019 will be set to hit the free agent market unless a long term deal is struck.
The old saying goes, “chicks dig the longball,” which Davis will certainly be doing for the Orioles before he starts to age and decline.
However, when the day comes that Davis has grown old, he will be crushing more than just baseballs, he will be crushing Orioles fans hearts for signing a contract for an absurd amount of money.