Zach Britton on Chris Davis: “In all honesty, we really needed him back” (updated)

As news of Chris Davis’ agreement with the Orioles broke early this morning, I was left to scramble for confirmation, more details and a better understanding of how the sides finally came together.

I slept through a text message tipping me off about the agreement. So it’s true: You snooze, you really do lose.

The Orioles were ready to move on, turning their attention to free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. They kept insisting that their offer to Davis wouldn’t change, but the total has jumped to $161 million.

It may be a little more complicated than it appears. I’ve heard that the Orioles “moved around” some money on Davis’ contract. It most likely includes deferred money, same with their original offer that was worth $150 million.

Multiple sources say the Orioles didn’t give Davis a full no-trade clause, so forget what you read earlier. Those details still were being hammered out late last night.

It’s believed that Davis can choose eight teams, but I don’t have the exact number confirmed.

There’s no opt-out clause in the contract, of course. The Orioles don’t believe in them unless it’s a minor league deal.

Chris Davis laughing.jpgI’ve also heard that Davis’ deal is for less money than Cespedes wanted from the Orioles. The club has concerns about Cespedes’ makeup, but still were willing to make a run at him as long as Davis remained on the market.

It’s conceivable that the Orioles could sign Cespedes to a one-year deal if he’s willing to take it, but that’s certainly not the direction his agent is going at this time. And the Orioles would have plenty of competition.

Keep in mind that the Orioles still can trade Davis at a later date. They’re not married to him for the next seven years. The Tigers dealt Prince Fielder. The Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez. Jose Reyes has been moved twice.

The hope, of course, is that the Orioles get huge production from Davis, at least on the front end of the contract, and he helps them win a World Series. They weren’t willing to give Nelson Cruz a fourth year and lost him to the Mariners. They went more than the extra mile with Davis.

“I think it’s big for us,” said closer Zach Britton, who’s also represented by Scott Boras. “He’s a good clubhouse guy, a good leader, and in all honesty, we really needed him back. We had a big hole to fill. And we know him.

“That’s the big thing when you re-sign him. We know what guy we’re getting, what kind of teammate. You bring in someone from outside the organization, you don’t really know what you’re getting in the clubhouse. So it’s good to get him back for those reasons. I’m excited for him.”

Britton and his teammates also will take Davis’ home runs, a total that’s led the majors over the past three season.

“His bat plays well in our division with the short porches in right field in different parks, especially our field,” Britton said. “You look at our lineup with him, (Mark) Trumbo, Jonesy (Adam Jones), Manny (Machado). Hopefully, we get a bounce-back season from J.J. (Hardy), and we have Schoopy (Jonathan Schoop) and Wiety (Matt Wieters) doing his thing.

“I think with Trumbo, that lineup looks pretty good if Trumbo gets back to where he’s been hitting 30-plus home runs. Add that with CD and we’re going to be hitting a lot of home runs.”

Fans can expect an increase in ticket prices this season, the cost of doing business. The cost of handing out the largest contract in franchise history.

“CD is one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball,” said infielder Ryan Flaherty. “We’re lucky to have him, not only for his baseball abilities, but also as a teammate.”

The rotation still has a hole that needs to be filled after left-hander Wei-Yin Chen signed a five-year deal with the Marlins.

“You can only score so many runs,” Britton said. “You can’t outscore teams every single night. You look at Toronto. They have a good lineup, but you can’t outslug teams every night. But this allows us now to move on and get another starter.”

The Davis signing, official once he passes a physical, sends another message to players on the team that free agency isn’t an automatic ticket out of town.

“I think for someone like me, it’s not like you get to a certain point in free agency and they’re not going to give you an opportunity to come back,” Britton said. “You see what happened with Darren (O’Day) and CD and you go, ‘Hey, there’s a chance I could stay here a long time.’

“They gave CD the money. Did I expect it? I don’t really know. I was anxious to see what they would do. They brought back Darren on a good deal, too. As a player, you look at that and say, ‘Hey, it’s not like free agency means it’s see you later.’ You could stay a long time.”

The Orioles will need to clear a spot for Davis on the 40-man roster.

Update: “I’m excited,” said catcher Matt Wieters. “I’m excited to have Chris back as a person. We’ve grown closer during our time playing together. He’s a great guy to have as part of our team and a guy I consider a friend on and off the field. It’s great to have him back and be able to have him for 200-plus days a year.

“There aren’t bats out there with that kind of power and with his athletic ability. He makes the team deeper. It’s great addition by not subtraction, I guess.

“Our clubhouse has grown so close personally. I’m excited to have him back as a person.”

Wieters texted Davis upon hearing the news this morning.

“I said, ‘Tell me it’s true,’ and he said, ‘It’s true,’ so I’m excited for him,” Wieters said. “The whole offseason has kind of been about not really knowing what’s coming back. It’s nice to know we’re going to have a lot of the same team in place and build on it from there.”

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