As has been known for some time, the Orioles are facing the depature of several major contributors this offseason. Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Wei-Yin Chen -- all represented by Scott Boras -- will become free agents. The Orioles will offer all three a qualifying offer, barring grievous injury to any of them, and then they'll all hit the open market. It's a given that the Orioles will not bring back all three, and probable (I'd say near certain) that they won't bring back two of them. But the Orioles could make a play for one of the three (particularly since they'd have an advantage over other suitors, not needing to give up a draft pick to sign them). If that premise is true, which of the three should they pursue?
Why they should sign him: Buck Showalter is obviously a fan of Wieters, and the pitching staff seems to like him as well, even if they don't objectively pitch much better for him. Even if his bat never bore out the mega-prospect hype, his offensive floor is much better than the average MLB catcher, with a tantalizing ceiling. It's possible that Wieters would come back to the Orioles on a one-year deal, either a value-building deal of some sort or in accepting a ~$15M qualifying offer, to put together a stronger campaign and land a bigger multi-year deal than he'd get after this season of injury recovery.
Why they shouldn't sign him: This part sort of writes itself. In addition to the above note that Wieters' bat has never matched the hype, there's the fact that he's a 29-year-old catcher with a good bit of mileage on him. His once-elite defense has shown signs of fading, and he's not showing much with the bat during this recovery year, either. He could be a sneaky value signing because of all the red flags, but those red flags are there for a reason.
Why they should sign him: I mean, he's Thor. He hits the big home runs with ease. He has bounced back from a dismal 2014, and it's easy to believe that his current level of production, somewhere between his decent 2012 and his absurdly good 2013, is about where he really lies. His defense at first base is steady, and he can do a little bit of right field or third base in a pinch. Our own Nick Cicere made a more detailed case to sign Davis, so I'll let that do the talking.
Why they shouldn't sign him: That miserable 2014 season is still out there, where Davis hit 26 dingers and did almost nothing else, plagued by oblique injuries and a prescription PED bust. Anyone signing Davis will weigh that somewhere in their minds as they look to carry him through his age 35 season or so. Price, of course, will also be a consideration, as Davis's impressive 2015 drives his value upward.
Why they should sign him: He's been a steady left-handed starter, and he's currently turning in his best season to date. There is literally no club who couldn't use a guy like Chen if the price was right. You can count on Chen to be a #3 at worst, and a solid #2 if he's on his game. His flyball tendencies are a little nerve-wracking, and the K numbers will never be dazzling, but he gets the job done.
Why they shouldn't sign him: There aren't a lot of great reasons that the Orioles wouldn't want to get Chen back -- he's proven that his stuff works even in the confines of Camden Yards -- but he'll probably be a pricey signing. As mentioned above, the market for steady left-handed starters is not exactly thin. Chen has a little injury history, but it's not a gigantic red flag. The Orioles can't likely afford to build a rotation full of free-agent contracts (like Ubaldo's) and still address their other needs, though.
So who should it be?
Maybe this seems like the easy answer, but my vote is for Davis. I'm willing to throw out his 2014 as an abberation, and his primary skill (the dingers) is one that can age gracefully. Wieters has red flags all over the place, and Chen just strikes me as a larger risk given the price tag he's likely to command. When you look out to each of these three guys at age 35 or 36, it's easy to imagine any of them being a bust at some point in that long contract, but Davis as a bust (a middling bat with a few dingers left in it) seems like the least painful mistake of the three to make, compared to Wieters (injured or moved to 1B, where his bat won't play well) or Chen (an albatross contract for league-average production or occasional injury). Whether the Orioles agree remains to be seen.