Did they say this when he was signed, or a year earlier when Cruz and Markakis were in free agency? That's the issue we're debating: not whether the money paid to Davis was only for him in 2015, but whether resigning Cruz and Markakis for a similar amount in 2014 would have prevented them from resigning Davis later. If you are saying that the Orioles would have signed Davis to that same contract anyway, that's fine, but then you're really arguing two separate points ("The Orioles shouldn't have signed Davis"; "The Orioles should have resigned Cruz and Markakis") instead of the one combined point you've been seeming to push ("The Orioles resigned Davis instead of Cruz+Markakis, and that was a bad decision").
I think that, at the time, resigning Cruz would have been a bad gamble, and one which turned out poorly--we aren't the first people to give up pumping cash into a slot machine right before it pays out. I would have been fine with resigning Markakis, but I think the decision to let him walk was reasonable given the past three seasons. I thought that the Davis deal was one the team would regret, like many, but I also am pretty sure I know what the fanbase reaction would have been had they not resigned him (whether or not you or I or anyone else as individuals would have been OK), and I definitely felt it would be more of a year-to-year consistency problem with a tail-off at the end as opposed to stalling into a nose dive right through rock bottom. But I don't think the two free-agency periods have much in common, other than the Orioles having money in 2015 that they wouldn't have had otherwise. And I don't think that letting Cruz and Markakis walk was anything more than good process coming up with a bad result.
"The Orioles resigned Davis instead of Cruz+Markakis, and that was a bad decision" - Sorry that I gave you the impression that this was my argument. It's not, I would have to be clairvoyant to know the O's would extend Davis 3 years later. I'm not
It's more along the lines of, if not signing them ultimately resulted in signing Davis, then I would have preferred to have the other two guys.
Regarding your second paragraph, all good points. I agree with you. I'll share my thoughts that I posted at the time. I think they should have signed Cruz. From what was reported, the O's were offering 3 years, he wanted 4. They were on the same page as far as the $ per year. I thought it was a safe bet that Cruz would be an equally productive player for 3 more years. And if he tailed off in year 4, that's OK, because the team would probably be looking at a make over by then. I chalk it up to the cost of doing business. My heart wanted Nick to stay. But I understood the reasoning. He had the neck issue, and he was losing a step in the OF. I also thought the O's would and could find a comparable replacement.