Orioles unveil Davis
Chris Davis looked at the brand-new jersey he was about to put one arm through — orange and white with Orioles scrawled on the front— and flashed an ear-to-ear grin.
“Looks familiar,” Davis joked.
It will for quite some time. The Orioles announced officially Thursday that they’ve signed Davis to a club-record seven-year, $161 million contract, keeping the popular slugger hitting at Camden Yards for the foreseeable future.
“Deep within me somewhere [I felt like] there was a little more left in the tank,” Davis said of his final game at Camden Yards last season, “a little more left to be seen.”
Davis, 29, was named the Most Valuable Oriole last season after hitting a Major League-leading 47 home runs. He is the only player in Orioles history to have more than one 40-plus-homer season. Often the subject of thunderous applause, Davis met some backlash this winter when word leaked out that his agent, Scott Boras, had refused the O’s $154 million offer.
Boras, who flew to Baltimore early in the offseason to state his intent, spoke again with principle owner Peter Angelos on Friday night and the two sides reached an agreement that leaked out to the press early Saturday morning.
“It was about crossing the last bridge if you will,” Boras said of negotiations, in which he complimented executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette’s efforts. “Probably both sides knew what was going to happen in the end.”
Duquette— and ownership— had made bringing back Davis his primary goal this winter and mentioned the familiarity with him as a person and player as a big reason the organization was able to justify such a commitment.
“I don’t know how many places I went this year where people said, ‘You’ve got to sign Chris Davis.’,” Duquette said. “So I know he’s got a lot of fans in Baltimore that follow the team and love to see his prodigious home runs.”
“It gives me great comfort that I know Chris and have a lot of confidence in Chris and have seen him perform, and the way that he works and provides leadership in the community.
We’re just so happy to have him returning to do his job for the Orioles for many, many years.”
Davis, who admitted free agency was “a little more stressful” than he thought, tried to stay busy and away from the rumor mill. He was impressed when Angelos reached out to him at the beginning of the winter and that the Orioles never wavered in their interest.
As for the pressure to live up to a contract that will pay him $17 million annually, with $42 million deferred, Davis said: “I hope there is. I hope there are expectations. I’ve always kind of thought of pressure as something that you really inflict on yourself. As a professional athlete, really a professional in anything that you do, you’re going to expect yourself to be great and you’re going to hold yourself to high standards. I’m happy to be here for the next seven years and be in a place where I’ve had success in the past and we’ve had success as a team in the past. And I think these next few years are going to be a lot of fun and hopefully very successful years.”
The full story on Davis, who was accompanied by his wife, Jill, and their daughter, will be available on Orioles.com shortly.
Duquette said the Orioles will now turn their attention toward pitching as they try to add to their rotation. “We’ve found some pitching we like just not at the prices we like,” Duquette said. “It’s been a very, very expensive market.”
“There are some pitchers out there that we like and we’ve talked to some other teams about [trades]. The problem is there’s more teams chasing fewer pitchers. There’s not enough to go around. That’s an age-old problem and it was very acute this winter.”
Here’s more Boras..
Were you surprised by the initial offer’s size?
“Offers that go public and all the other offers you receive, you have a pretty special ballplayer so the category of where teams are making offers are certainly, there’s a historic value to it. There are a number of players that are in that market, so to answer your question, I’ve done this a long time, no. It wasn’t surprising at all. The problem is things get portrayed in the paper that aren’t quite accurate, and when you’re finalizing deals… sometimes, deals are interesting because sometimes, they don’t happen then all of a sudden they happen with a flurry. And then sometimes, you get 90 percent of the way and it takes a long time to get to the last portion.
Each negotiation has its own agenda and spirit, but the one thing that I did in this negotiation is I flew out here and met with Peter and Dan and let them know that Chris and I had talked, and this ballpark and this community, I wanted him to know. I said, “I don’t do this very often. It’s not exactly a great free agent tactic to fly here and meet with an owner and let him know that we’re very interested in re-signing here. We did at the forefront of free agency. sometimes, it’s good for a lawyer to know from another lawyer, what the real intent of free agency is. Being able to have that meeting, I think, set in motion the clear intentions of Peter and Dan. I was able to communicate that to Chris. It allowed us in our free agent direction to look at this deal in a little bit different way.”
What got this deal done?
“These deals are complicated because you’re talking about power. There’s very little power in the game. we’ve had eight pitchers sign five-or-more-year contracts in this market. That’s unheard of. The demand of pitching quelled the market in offensive power, because the teams were so focused. So many teams needed pitching, and needed offense, but the competitiveness for the pitching took a focus that really—I’m not saying teams didn’t express interest. They kept saying, I’ve got to get something done, and it was not something that had to do with the category of an offensive player. It had to do with a pitcher. So that part, for me, and I’ve represented three of the starters in this market, it really represented an interesting, almost… it was like one side of the road was working and the other was watching. But it wasn’t about value. It was about owners and general managers realizing they had to build their team first in that category before they could move to the other side.”
Was there open communication even after the first offer was “pulled”?
“The line of communication, Dan and I talk a lot in this process, so it was something where we had to cross some bridges and I had to figure some things out about the structure. These things have complicated dynamics to them when you’re talking about how the economics work, how the deferrals work, all those things. You have to really map that through. Really, again, it was more about the financial, economic last bridge, if you will, moreso than the mutual intent of what probably both sides knew what was going to happen in the end.”
Any other serious suitors?
“You know, when you go to a wedding, you never talk about your girlfriends. So the idea is, look, Chris Davis, there’s only one other man I know in recent time who has hit over 45 home runs in a five-year period twice, and he did pretty well in his career too. These are rare guys. I think the key part was that everyone knew that in this ballpark, Chris Davis, it was built for Chris Davis. This is where he can execute and be most effective, and I think when you work for players and you do things, one of the messages you want to tell them is that their comfort and what they do, you want them to be successful and you want them to execute. That was always in the back of my mind in the advise of Chris and what we’ve done. It was really about getting to an economic place where we felt it was within reason in comparison to what we knew was available elsewhere.
On the contract’s deferrals…
“Sometimes in these deals, in today’s times with interest rates and what you’re doing, we have a Maryland tax statute that helps us. when I did Scherzer’s contract, I’ve become a tax attorney. You figure these things out about how you can do something that’s beneficial for the team and do something that’s beneficial to the player, because Chris lives in Texas where they have zero interest tax. And then you look at, modernly, what the net present value of these contracts are when you go through them and how you evaluate it. They are complicated. They do take time. You are moving money around, you’re always negotiating terms and years and how much of the contract is front-loaded. This contract is really not backloaded, a lot of contracts are backloaded and there’s less deferral. This contract, it’s not backloaded. There’s a little more deferral. In each, when you go to work out what the true numbers are, it takes time to evaluate.”