The Chris Davis era of the Orioles is officially over. On Thursday morning, the team announced unexpectedly on Twitter that Davis is retiring from baseball, effective today. After years of wondering what was going to happen, what were they going to do with Davis, here we are. One August morning he just decided to announce that he had enough and he’s walking away from his playing career.
Davis’s statement that accompanied the retirement announcement:
After an extended time dealing with my injury and recent hip surgery, I informed the Orioles about my decision to retire effective today. I want to thank the Orioles partnership group, led by the Angelos family, the Orioles organization, my teammates and coaches, the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital with whom I will continue to be involved following my retirement and, of course, Birdland. Thank you all for the many memories that I will cherish forever.
I’m so gobsmacked by this sudden announcement that it’s hard to even know how to react. There is not much need to linger on the ugly performance by Davis for all but one or if you’re very generous two years of his seven-year, $161 million contract that he signed following the 2015 season.
We all know. He was terrible. Some people wanted the Orioles to cut him as soon as Mike Elias took the job. Some people hoped Davis would just decide to retire one day. For myself, I assumed that there was no way, no how that Davis would make the choice to retire.
Wrapped up in “Davis should retire!” discourse was an assumption that he would be walking away from money in doing so. Veteran MLB writer Jon Heyman said on Twitter that Davis will still receive his 2022 salary from the team. So in that sense, I guess I was still right to be sure that Davis was not going to walk away from the money.
Heyman tends to be, what’s the nicest way to put this, very plugged in to information regarding clients of agent Scott Boras, who represents Davis. If he says that Davis is getting paid the money, then Davis is getting paid the money, so everyone whose immediate reaction is to celebrate the O’s getting out from under that money, it seems like that is not the case.
Heyman further added that Davis has agreed to a “restructuring.” To be discovered later, I suppose, what that restructuring looks like. This could end up being like several years ago when Prince Fielder retired with years left on his contract, with his decision allowing his team to recoup some insurance money on his contract since he was unable to continue playing. Or maybe it’s going to be like Bobby Bonilla and the Mets and Davis gets a small payment every July 1 for another 40 years.
Whatever happens with the money, the fact remains that after more than ten years since he joined the Orioles along with Tommy Hunter in a trade that sent Koji Uehara to the Rangers, Davis is done. Over his entire career with the team, he batted .230/.318/.459. The 2012-2016 stretch where the Orioles were competitive saw Davis hit even better, batting .249/.340/.518 in those years with 197 home runs combined.
One big regret from that era is that Davis’s two best seasons, 2013 and 2015, were the years that the Orioles were not as good.
The less said about his tenure from 2018 onward, the better. Davis never even made it onto the field during the 2021 season after suffering an injury in spring training that dragged on until he eventually had season-ending hip surgery. He was around spring training long enough to give a critical interview about the state of the rebuilding effort, and in an unfortunate turn of phrase for him, said “I’m the one big lump they’re kind of stuck with.”
It’s not like Davis’s salary has been a barrier for the Orioles for several years now. Dan Duquette’s final months with the Orioles saw him shave down a lot of payroll and Mike Elias has continued the trend. The O’s Opening Day payroll this year was about $57 million, which according to Cot’s Contracts is 27th in MLB. They were unlikely to start spending money again before Davis’s contract ran out in any case.
There is no immediate impact to the Orioles roster from this retirement. He was on the 60-day injured list. The near-term impact is that the O’s will not have to carry him on the 40-man roster through the offseason, because he’s retired. That frees up a spot for Elias to carry another prospect or possible reclamation project.
If you’d like to have a good Davis stat, he hit more home runs as an Oriole (253) than all but five other players: Cal, Eddie, Boog, Brooks, and Adam. Davis’s 53 home runs from 2013 stand as the franchise’s single season record. He also holds the record for most home runs hit onto Eutaw Street in Camden Yards, with 11. Second place has six Eutaw homers. As of last night, Anthony Santander and Luke Scott are tied with six. Don’t read the next paragraph if you want the good stats to be the last thing you think about.
If you’d like to have a bad Davis stat, he struck out more than any Oriole has ever done, with his 1,550 strikeouts well ahead of Cal’s 1,305. When it was bad, it was really bad.
The Orioles released the following statement about Davis’s retirement:
The Orioles support Chris Davis as he retires from baseball today. We thank Chris for his 11 years of service to the club, to Orioles fans, and to the Baltimore community. Athletes have the power to change lives and better their communities, and Chris and his family have done just that. We admire their dedication to those most in need, with hundreds of hours of community work completed, millions of dollars donated, and countless other charitable efforts performed, often without fanfare. For every inning played and home run hit, hour of service completed and amount donated, the Davis family has made an immeasurable impact on our city and on Orioles baseball. We send our best wishes to Chris, his wife Jill, and their daughters Ella, Evie, and Grace, each of whom will forever be part of our Orioles family.
Some day down the road, I will be glad that Davis was an Oriole. Today, I am glad that he’s not on the Orioles any more.
Best wishes to Davis and his family as he moves into the next chapter of his life.