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Detroit Tigers: Why Signing Chris Davis Isn’t a Terrible Idea

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Oct 4, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) hits a two run home run during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) hits a two run home run during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the offseason continues to churn along, the Detroit Tigers are still without a left fielder. Sure, the team has revamped the bullpen, stabilized the rotation and beefed up the bench—but a new left fielder? Not so much.

Detroit is, and will likely continue to be, linked with signing Yoenis Cespedes until the outfielder actually signs (regardless of the team he signs with).

One option that hasn’t been discussed in conjunction with the Tigers is Chris Davis. The former Baltimore slugger is a free agent as well, but has mainly been mentioned as a fit for teams with a need at first base.

That doesn’t include Detroit, a franchise that employs Miguel Cabrera

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However, Cabrera might not be as big of a roadblock as one would think.

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo says the Tigers could be a “sleeper” for Davis’ services. Cafardo wrote in a recent column about a potential pairing between Detroit and the All Star, “A sleeper team for Davis? The Tigers. He could play left field.”

Predominantly a first baseman, the ex-Oriole can also play third base, right field and left field.

While he won’t win any Gold Gloves, the fact that Davis can man multiple positions would provide a massive boost to Detroit. Defensive flexibility is growing more and more important in the modern game, and the 29-year-old brings a considerable amount of it.

Davis would predominantly play out in left, but he could spell Nick Castellanos for 10-20 games at third base if different game plans dictated it. In addition, the former Silver Slugger winner could step in at first base every once in a while to rotate Cabrera to designated hitter. This would give the former MVP a slight rest. Additionally, the occasional scenario would also allow Victor Martinez to stay fresher as the season progresses. What’s more, Davis could play right field in a pinch to rest J.D. Martinez.

Sep 26, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) at bat during the eighth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Red Sox won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) at bat during the eighth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Red Sox won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /

In addition to the defensive flexibility, the obvious reason to sign Davis is because of his power. The slugger’s bat would only add more firepower to an already explosive offense. Davis has led the majors in home runs in two of the past three seasons. In the past four years, the former Texas Ranger has mashed 159 homers.

A lineup featuring Ian Kinsler, Cabrera, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Davis hitting consecutively in some combination is an extremely intimidating proposal for opposing pitching staffs.

The arrival of Davis alone would push the Tigers near the front of the pack in terms of World Series contenders.

Despite all the positives, the contract has to be right for Detroit. The team simply doesn’t need another Prince Fielder situation money-wise.

MLBTradeRumors.com predicted a six-year, $144 million contract for Davis. That’s is a considerable amount of cash. However, MLBTR thought Alex Gordon would receive a five-year, $105 million deal. Gordon would go on to sign a four-year, $72 million deal.

If Gordon’s deal is any indicator of the current outfield market, perhaps Davis will sign for less than expected as well.

There is some salary flexibility coming up for the Tigers. The team can move on from Cameron Maybin and Mike Aviles‘ respective contracts next season. After 2017, Detroit could potentially have the aging quartet of Mike Pelfrey, Kinsler, Anibal Sanchez and Mark Lowe off the books. Still, overpaying for Chris Davis probably isn’t the right move.

Davis also strikes out a lot.

Over the past four years, the first baseman has gone down on strikes 749 times, including a league-leading 208 last season. There really isn’t any way to sugar-coat it, high strikeout totals can be detrimental to a team.

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There is a lot to like about Chris Davis’ game, and a lot to be concerned about. He’s not the perfect fit like Cespedes is, but if the Detroit Tigers ended up signing him to a relatively reasonable contract, it wouldn’t crash and burn like the Prince Fielder fiasco.

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