Re-signing Davis remains high priority for O's

Showalter says ownership 'very supportive' of pursuing club's free agents

Re-signing Davis remains high priority for O's

BALTIMORE -- Outfield, pitching and the continued pursuit of Chris Davis was how executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette described the Orioles' offseason priorities. Manager Buck Showalter, speaking on MLB Network on Monday morning, affirmed that Baltimore's interest in re-signing Davis is high.

"We're going to be competitive with it and, at the end of the day, he and his people will have a decision to make," Showalter said over the phone on the Network's Hot Stove program. "I try to leave those guys alone; believe me, their agents want us to leave them alone. ... Chris is a grown man. We talked many times. We had plenty of chances to talk [during the season], and he knows how much we like him and would like to have him stay. We are going to make an attempt to stay competitive with it."

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Davis, a two-time home run king, is considered one of the prized free agents, leading the Majors this year with 47 homers. He also hit 53 during a historic 2013 campaign, and given his age -- he doesn't turn 30 until March -- and above-average defensive play, Davis is projected to land a six- or seven-year deal on the open market. It's been estimated that Davis, whom agent Scott Boras has said he can also shop as an outfielder, will get a contract valued at $144 million. That's a sizable investment for any team and one that's typically not in the Orioles' offseason plans.

But several recent reports have mentioned owner Peter Angelos' involvement in wanting Davis to return. and Showalter noted Monday that ownership is "very supportive" with all of the Orioles' free agents, a group that also includes Darren O'Day and Wei-Yin Chen. O'Day is considered the top relief arm on the market.

Baltimore was able to retain one of its free agents earlier this month, as catcher Matt Wieters accepted a $15.8 million qualifying offer. That move, combined with expected arbitration raises, pushes Baltimore's payroll into the $90 million range, and if the club is going to be a serious player for Davis, it would require a serious payroll jump.

Duquette made headlines earlier this offseason for saying that the organization was looking for a "top-of-the-rotation" starter. Though he clarified that the team probably wasn't going to sign a No. 1 starter like David Price or Zack Greinke, upgrading the rotation with a second-tier free agent starter would still require a sizable financial commitment. Angelos approved the O's signing of Ubaldo Jimenez in February 2014, a four-year, $50 million commitment that is the organization's largest contract for a free-agent pitcher.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.