First there was the Mark Trumbo trade. That was followed by the Hyun-soo Kim signing. Next, the rumors linking the Orioles to free-agent sluggers like Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton, so-called fallback options. Then on Thursday came the news that the Orioles have actually made an offer to Cespedes -- presumably a real deal, put it down on paper and fax it over kind of thing -- with signature lines and all. The offer, likely in the five-year, $75 million-$90 million range according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, is the latest and greatest clue that -- like it or not, O’s fans -- the only place Davis and the team are headed is Splitsville.
Besides the transactional traces, there have been plenty of verbal cues. Ever since the winter meetings, when Baltimore shockingly dropped a seven-year, $154 million offer on Davis -- and Davis shockingly rejected it -- general manager Dan Duquette has been unequivocal about the fact that his team can’t afford to sit around and wait for the home run champ to come to his (dollars and) senses. But a lot of Duquette’s sound bites have played like rhetoric, like contrived quips designed to get Davis and agent Scott Boras to flinch. Two days ago, however, manager Buck Showalter chimed in, in a way that seemed anything but rhetorical.
“How much is enough?” Showalter asked, speaking at a Baltimore area leadership conference. “I walked by Chris 10 times last year. I said, ‘Chris, can you go into Target and buy anything you want?’ He goes, ‘Oh yeah.’ Your kids, your family, your family’s family, they’re taken care of -- how much is enough?”
Coming from Showalter, a straight shooter who knows Davis as well as anyone in Baltimore, these are words that weigh. Heavily. After all, he was the manager in Texas when the Rangers drafted Davis and also the man who later gave the lefty slugger his first real crack at being an everyday player. So yeah, Showalter’s remarks resonated. The combination of tone and timing -- just one day after his comments, reports of the Cespedes offer surfaced -- cannot be ignored.
Sure, you could argue that the Cespedes news is just posturing, that somebody inside the Orioles organization leaked the offer in an effort to make Davis and Boras react, a last-ditch effort to bully a seemingly bully-proof superagent. Or that maybe somebody in Cespedes’ camp leaked it in hopes of stoking the All-Star outfielder’s free-agent fire, a ploy to drive up the market for his services. Maybe it was both.
Then again, maybe it was neither. Maybe it was simply a reflection of the fact that the Orioles are ready to be done with Chris Davis, once and for all. Sure seems that way.