1. Chris Davis signed a contract--a very large, seven-year, $163 million contract--over the weekend to return to the Baltimore Orioles. In the end, the Orioles were able to win out over the competitive bids from...surely someone, at some point.
In my heart of hearts, I would probably cheer the Sox inking Davis to such a deal for what it would mean for the removal of the White Sox payroll ceiling and the thrillingly emphatic short-term upgrade over Adam LaRoche, and not because of the odds of getting fair value from a 29-year-old first baseman who was a straight-up bad major league baseball player in 2014 are anything other than dire.
But since that was never going to happen, not even in the most dinger-drenched fever dream, the real relevant portion here is that it likely takes the Orioles--one of the few teams with publicly leaked details of a Cespedes offer--out of the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes. While that is one team no longer blocking this pipe dream, the hopes that the market for his talents will now collapse still seem faint.
2, The Cespedes market does offer some fun rival-watching to be had. The Tigers apparently cannot help themselves from salivating over every big bat, and were reportedly in on Davis and still watching Yoenis. But this right here...
...is the reality of the financial commitments they made during their run of constant aggression bumping up against the present ambitions of owner Mike Ilitch.
The Tigers already have $163 million committed for 2016, including $118.8 million to just Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, Jordan Zimmerman, Ian Kinsler and Anibal Sanchez. The 30-year-old Zimmerman is by far the youngest of that group, and that figure only goes down by $3 million in 2017. The financial hell they were knowingly--and rightly, to a point--risking is here, and it doesn't seem like Ilitch has total reign to just charge forward through anymore.
3. Meanwhile, the Royals might want to note that when the Tigers committed themselves to financial hell, it wasn't for 31-year-old pitchers coming off a year of putting up pedestrian numbers in a pitching paradise.
The Royals certainly needed someone to bolster a rotation too dependent on meaningful contributions from Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen, Chris Young and Jason Vargas in 2016, but Ian Kennedy is a surprising direction to drop what for them is a landmark contract. More than just five years, $70 million and a draft pick seem like an overly large commitment for the perennially inconsistent Kennedy, it's a perplexing matchup. The one thing Kennedy has been able to deliver year-in, year-out is strikeouts, and they're going to place him in another pitcher's park with a generational defense. The Royals are the rare team that can avoid paying the market rate for whiffs, and instead that's all they bought.
Locking up the arbitration years of Lorenzo Cain, the coolest player in baseball, is very nice, though.
4. A word about the White Sox competitive window. Brett Lawrie was not enough to significantly heighten their urgency, but Todd Frazier is, and the two of them together certainly are. They have a solid average second baseman and an All-Star third baseman for the next two years, and certainly have nothing in the pipe of that caliber to replace them after 2017. They don't have to aggressively push to contend now that they're both in the fold, it would just make it a waste of time and prospects. And they don't have to give up on Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche, they would just be fools to stake their season on turnarounds from both at the same time.
That's immediately obvious, but in another edition of Take a Lesson From the Team That Dominated the Division For Half a Decade. The Tigers are at the end of a nice, long competitive window. They made huge investments to build winning clubs around generational talents, made regular playoff visits and came away with...zero World Series trophies. Because it's really hard to win a World Series, there's a lot that can go wrong in the playoffs and the best teams measure success on giving themselves as many bites at the apple as possible. Just because there's plenty of time left in the deals for Sale, Quintana, Abreu, Eaton and Rodon, doesn't mean that wasting another of their prime years to build an 80-85-win team and waiting till next year for another small uptick in payroll, or another prospect to swap, is not a very big problem. It is.
5. That said, the White Sox defense was lowkey nearly as bad as their offense last year, and while Dexter Fowler is a lot less sexy than Cespedes, the improvement of adding another centerfield-capable glove to that outfield mix would probably be a lot more than we can know (Because defensive metrics are unstable).