BALTIMORE -- 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."This feels familiar," Davis joked.It will for quite some time. The Orioles announced officially Thursday that they've signed
BALTIMORE -- 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.
"This feels 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 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 offseason 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 principal owner Peter Angelos on Friday night, and the two sides reached an agreement that leaked out to the media 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 their primary goal this offseason 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 away from the rumor mill. He was impressed when Angelos reached out to him at the beginning of the offseason and that the O's 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."
The return of Davis gives the Orioles a powerful left-handed middle-of-the-lineup bat they needed, along with solid first-base defense and an excellent clubhouse presence. Davis is outgoing and well-liked -- several teammates voiced the need to keep him at the end of last season -- and he joins Matt Wieters and Darren O'Day as free agents to stay in Baltimore.
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"I'm extremely excited about that," Davis said of joining Wieters and O'Day. "The fact that we have such a good group of guys and a warm, inviting clubhouse should draw players to Baltimore, and it should make you want to be a part of something special. I think the longer we can keep that going and the more that we can keep that focus our central theme, the better off we're going to be as a team."
Adding Davis, along with newcomer Mark Trumbo, should give the Orioles a formidable lineup. Over his career, Davis has batted .255/.330/.506 with 203 home runs and 549 RBIs. Since joining the O's in a 2011 midseason trade with the Rangers, Davis has batted .257/.340/.526 in 618 games with a Major League-leading 161 home runs.
So, were there any other competitive offers?
"I think the key part was that everyone knew that in this ballpark, Chris Davis, it was built for Chris Davis." Boras said.
With Davis now at Camden Yards for the long haul, the Orioles will turn their attention toward adding a starter.
"We've found some pitching we like, just not at the prices we like," Duquette said. "It's been a very, very expensive market."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.