Even though they have won three World Series championships and seven American League pennants, the Baltimore Orioles lost way more than they won from 1998 to 2011.
Things have been rough from 2017 to these days, in addition to that.
However, The Orioles were actually contenders from 2012 to 2016, and it was in large part because of slugger Chris Davis.
He landed in Baltimore via trade from the Texas Rangers in 2011.
He received regular playing time the next year, in 2012, and hit .270/.326/.501 with 33 homers.
A Franchise-Altering Contact
Yes, he received one of the worst contracts in MLB on January 21, 2016, when he signed a seven-year, $161 million deal to stay with the Orioles, the richest contract in the franchise history.
Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that after 2016, which was a successful season that saw Baltimore earn a Wild Card berth, the franchise hasn’t made the playoffs.
There is no question that signing Davis to that mammoth contract took away some of the payroll and financial flexibility.
You could say that Davis’ arrival in Baltimore revived the franchise and gave them their best days since 1997, when they last won the AL East title.
That started a successful four-year run that included two Wild Card berths (2012, 2016) and an AL East title (2014).
For Davis, it included several accolades, such as an All-Star berth (2013), a Silver Slugger Award (2013), two home run titles (2013, 2015), and an RBI title (2013).
That 2013 season was a thing of beauty: he hit .286/.370/.634 with 53 round-trippers and 138 RBI.
He was also highly productive in 2015, slashing .262/.361/.562 with 47 homers.
The Start Of His Steep Decline
He hit 38 homers in 2016, but after that, ineffectiveness plagued him and ruined his career, just when his costly extension started to count against the Orioles’ payroll.
He was the victim of his own strikeout issues, whiffing nearly a third of the time.
From 2018 to 2020, he failed to hit .200 in each season, while accruing considerable playing time.
That’s why, while his arrival in Baltimore sparked a very good four-year run, his contract in 2016 represented misery from that point on.
His retirement, announced on Thursday, marks the end of an era in Baltimore.
The Davis era had its ups and downs, but Baltimore hasn’t won too much since signing him to that contract.
Orioles fans hope that his retirement signals a new era of more responsible spending, better player development, and scouting.
In fact, Baltimore does have some promising players that lighten up their future.
Adley Rutschman is their catcher of the future and should be ready to start the season with the Orioles next year.
Grayson Rodriguez is considered the finest pitching prospect in the game by some, and DL Hall is also impressive from the left side.
As for Davis, he still has one year and $23 million remaining on the seven-year, $161 million contract, but he’ll still get all of that money in a restructured settlement with deferrals.
According to industry sources, the Orioles will pay all of Chris Davis' salary for the remainder of his contract. However, the $17 million owed in 2022 (not including $6M deferred) will be spread over several years so that the Orioles don't have to pay a lump in 2022.
— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) August 12, 2021
Now, Baltimore is about to get that massive financial commitment off their books and start a new winning period.
As for Davis, he was always a professional and tried to revert his bad performance at all times.
As terrible as that contract ended up being, Chris Davis really did always seem like a super nice dude and did a lot of charitable activities around the city and its surrounding areas. Even though his baseball career ended the worst way possible, we won’t forget his glory days. https://t.co/sZ6aSTDKUf
— Daniel Rotter (@drot_6) August 12, 2021
Some fans will likely hold a grudge, but others will remember his glory days.