Jon Heyman reported Saturday Morning that Chris Davis and the Orioles had agreed to terms. The details of the contract trickled out as the day went along. First the agreement, then the seven-year, $161 million price tag, then a no-trade clause that eventually turned out to be a partial no trade clause.
Before the full terms leaked, many outlets already had their take hot off the line and ready to go for a spin. You can find them here, here, and here. Meanwhile, as Mark and I recorded our own reaction, Buster Olney broke the money terms of the deal. Davis is paid $17 million for the first seven years and then for ten subsequent years he is paid the remaining $42 million balance.
All of that, you probably already knew. It happened days ago. Meanwhile, people have continued to break down the deal, except this time with the deferrals. Some criticisms of the deal I'll go along with. The Orioles appeared to be, from media reports, just about the only suitors. In a sense they were negotiating against themselves. Also, seven years is a pretty long commitment to an over 30 slugger. The comparable player list lacks serious luster. These criticisms, to my mind, are valid even though there are mitigating factors.
The review and critique I understand the least is trying to assess the actual value of the deal. I am not sure how many of you know what the concept of Net Present Value is, but essentially money today is worth more than money later. So there are multiple references and articles breaking down the NPV of the deal. I find this stuff interesting because I am a very boring person, but I'm not sure why I or anyone else should care.
I fail to see a tangible reason that for an Orioles fan this deal is anything but 7 years and $119 million. A fan is not the GM nor the Owner. The $3.5 million payment Chris Davis receives in 2026 has quite literally no effect on my fandom because it will have no effect on the 2026 roster and especially no effect on the 2016 roster.
By 2026, $3.5 million might be the league minimum salary. By 2026, Major League Baseball might not even exist. Everyone could be dead. That amount of money should (and I stress the "should") have no tangible consequence on that future roster. The NPV is an interesting concept to play around with, but the payments made to Davis over the course of the next seven years are what really affects the roster and the team from the perspective of someone not writing the checks.
And while sometimes I myself get tired of the "it's not my money" argument, in this case it applies because the deferral payments are so low and spread out over such a long period of time that the money paid out is nearly irrelevant from a fan standpoint. The deferral payments serve the purpose of a nice headline for Scott Boras and Chris Davis and they allowed the Orioles to retain Davis.
Thus, my basic reaction is that this is a pretty good deal for the Orioles. $17 million a year when buying from the free agent market is not all that high of a price. They paid in years to get that low annual value which is my one true problem with the deal. Seven years is probably a year or two too long in my estimation. Paying any player until they are 37 years old is a foolhardy proposition. But, the low average annual value still gives the payroll a decent amount of flexibility over the course of the seven years and allows possible further additions to the roster for the 2016 season (a boy can dream).
Also, presented with no real sequitur to speak of, I take umbrage with how certain Davis' decline is being predicted. It may be that his decline will be rapid and within the next handful of years, it's probably likely that it will be. But, basing that off of statistical comparisons seems unfair to Davis. He is a unique player with unique traits, in particular physically. He is in excellent physical shape, has not yet suffered a major injury, and possesses a higher degree of athleticism than some of if not most of the players he is being compared to. So while an aging slugger is never a great proposition, there are reasons to hedge your cynical bets.
In the end, I'm not sure how much of what I just argued to you I really believe. But, it would seem to me that from a fan's perspective, this deal is a pretty good one to keep around a fan favorite and a real sign that ownership is willing to spend and spend creatively to keep talent around. Just remember, you can have fun with Net Present Values (not much), but it probably will not mean that much to you in the long run.