Orioles wait for Davis, mull options
BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles are looking elsewhere for hitting help while waiting for slugger Chris Davis to make a decision on where to play this year.
Sure, the Orioles would love to retain the defending major league home run champion. They've offered him in the vicinity of $150 million to return to Baltimore, yet the free agent first baseman remains unsigned.
Fortunately for the Orioles, several other hitting stars are available — most notably Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton and Howie Kendrick. The latter two, however, would cost Baltimore a compensatory draft pick.
"Cespedes is an option, but it has nothing to do with Chris," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Thursday. "We've talked about all of them. We talked about Upton, we talked about Kendrick. We're more interested in, do we want to give up a draft pick or not? We've got seven picks in the first 100 this year."
Showalter insists he's not losing sleep while waiting for Davis to pick a team.
"It's not high on my think list over the course of the day," he said.
Vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette hasn't given up on Davis, who had 47 homers and 117 RBIs last season. But he isn't sitting by the phone, either.
"We've been looking to upgrade our team and we'd like to sign another hitter," he said.
Spring training is only a month away, yet Duquette's effort to rebuild a club that went 81-81 last year is far from completed.
"We've been working hard to sign players to keep the team strong," he said. "Sometimes you can get things done at the start of the offseason, other times you get it done later in the offseason. But we're grinding it out every day."
Thus far, the Orioles most notable acquisitions have been outfielder Mark Trumbo, obtained in a trade with Seattle, and South Korean outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim. Baltimore also re-signed reliever Darren O'Day and retained catcher Matt Wieters, who accepted a qualifying offer.
"We certainly have more work to do," Duquette said, "but we have a pretty good talent base."
If Davis goes elsewhere, Trumbo can move to first base. But that leaves a hole in the outfield.
Buck not overly concerned: A year ago, finding players to surround Adam Jones in center field was a problem after Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis left as free agents. Although Showalter scrambled to fill out the lineup card, the Orioles found a way to generate offense.
That's one reason why Showalter is not overly concerned about the possibility of Davis leaving.
"Everybody said the sky was falling when we lost Nelson and Markakis. I loved both of them to a fault," Showalter said. "But we scored more runs the year after they left (713-705).
"Yeah, I'd like to have Chris. What happens if he signs with someone else? Is it over? It's about starting pitching for us."
Problem is, the Orioles haven't done much in that regard.
"We should have a very strong bullpen," Duquette said. "But having said that, we're going to need to get some good work out of the starters that we have or we're going to have to find some other starters."
The hope is that Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez rebound from off years, Ubaldo Jimenez builds upon a bounce-back 2015 season and 25-year-old Kevin Gausman becomes a fixture in the rotation.
"Then we've got to add one or two," Showalter said. "I think we'll sign or trade for a pitcher or two before the start of the season."