First baseman Chris Davis has become the highest-paid player in Baltimore Orioles history. He has signed the largest contract the team has ever handed out. But he feels certain that how much a player is paid will not be an issue with anyone inside the Orioles clubhouse.
“I don’t think so,” Davis told reporters after his press conference had ended last night. “Feel like everybody knows everybody so well. It is a lot of familiar faces ... I think it is encouraging to guys who may be looking to do a bigger deal. I think it is encouraging to see that the team is willing to make that kind of offer, that kind of commitment.”
Davis talked about a few conversations he had during the 2014 season and after last season with Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos. Davis said he left a phone conversation with Angelos that took place not long after the 2015 season ended confident he would remain an Oriole.
“I think, just never having gone through the free agent process, I didn’t really know what to expect. But from everyone I had talked to, they always said it was going to take longer than you expect. I wasn’t thrilled about that, but it is just kind of the way things work.
“As soon as the season ended and I knew that Peter was interested in having me back, there was a certain sense of comfort in that.”
Davis said Angelos understood his connection with the fans of Baltimore. A relationship that became strained briefly when he got suspended late in the 2014 season. But his connection with the Orioles fans, Davis feels, has always been very good.
“It was definitely a unique situation, but he understood it was not only the fans accepting me. But it was the fact that I felt this closeness with the fans. It was a two-way street, not a one-sided affair. That meant a lot to me. I’m excited to see him and sit down and I might give him a big ol’ hug,” he said.
When Davis finalized his contract with the Orioles, he said there was no big family celebration.
“I think it was more relief than anything else,” he said. “We were so happy that it was Baltimore. A place where we were so comfortable and wanted to be. We didn’t have to start over again.”
In case anyone wondered, Davis’ sense of humor remains as strong as his massive arms. Did he get nervous when the negotiations dragged on?
“I was freaking out. I was running down the street naked and shaving my head. Nah, just kidding,” he laughed.
In this social media age, two very well-paid baseball players had a private conversation during the Davis negotiations via Twitter’s direct messaging component. Davis revealed that he had that Twitter exchange with pitcher David Price, who earlier signed his own huge deal (for $217 million over seven years) with Boston.
“He signed pretty early. He was like, ‘Everybody always wants to know how it is going?’ I was like, I’m thinking about just going to Japan and I’m just going to sell out and start over. He said, ‘Let me know how that works.’”
Yep, sense of humor is still fine.
During a most important time during his career this week, Davis told reporters he visited a youngster in the hospital Wednesday who is dealing with Hodgkin Lymphoma. That must have helped keep a few things in perspective for him.
It was also where he met and talked to an Orioles fan. That fan told Davis something that resonated with him. Something he spoke about during his press conference. It all happened after that hospital visit.
“It might have been a valet guy,” Davis said. “He was just like, ‘Hey man it is so much fun watching you guys. (Adam) Jonesy blowing bubbles. You’re always laughing and hugging each other and crying. We love that about you guys.’ I thought that was cool. That fans see that. Not as just like ... as something they can be a part of and it is not just our thing.”
One other quick final thought:
* The deferred money in this contract probably works out for both sides. It allowed agent Scott Boras to extract a larger overall contract. It allows the Orioles to pay Davis a set amount ($17 million) over the next seven years.
Some huge contracts can escalate and are back-loaded as the years go on, and stars can be paid over $20 million per season. Sometimes well over that. The contracts can become a burden for the teams. Davis’ deal is not structured that way. That could help the Orioles in that it provides more dollars to go elsewhere. Also, a figure of $17 million per year for Davis could look even reasonable in a few years if salaries do continue to escalate. It could also come into play if the Orioles look to trade Davis at some point. Davis reportedly has a limited, but not a full, no-trade clause.
Now about that pitching staff ...