I served as an economic adviser to the Baltimore Orioles from 2012 to 2018, and my O’s boss at the time, VP for Baseball Operations Dan Duquette, had me working on economic evaluations of a new contract for Mr. Davis starting in August of 2015; none of the contemplated offers went beyond four years. I confidently wagered Mr. Duquette a lavish lunch in Little Italy that Mr. Davis’ value on the open market would be less than nine figures, overall.
I lost that bet, of course. But Mr. Duquette and I were both dismayed that the winning bidder would, eventually, be us. On Mr. Angelos’s request, we had evaluated successively higher offers to Mr. Davis, all of which promised “red ink” in Baltimore’s small, revenue-constrained market. When Mr. Davis turned those offers down, we moved on, trading for Mark Trumbo in early December 2015.
Mr. Trumbo was a slugger who had been playing out of position in right field. With just a year left before his own free agency, Mr. Duquette figured he would be a motivated replacement for Mr. Davis at first base — after which prospects Trey Mancini or Christian Walker might be ready.
But voices within and outside the organization stressed Mr. Davis’ value on the field (though he had, in 2014, already shown a worrying tendency to slump for extended periods) and raised concerns about the P.R. hit if a star attraction was lost. And so, in January, Mr. Angelos made the commitment that he no doubt regrets.