Orioles' Davis retires after 13 seasons

August 12th, 2021

BALTIMORE -- After years of saga, strikeouts and speculation, the Orioles and have parted ways. Davis and the team jointly announced his retirement from baseball on Thursday, more than a year before his franchise-record $161 million contract was set to expire.

According to sources, Davis will collect all the remaining money after he and the team restructured the deal, which from its beginning included deferred payments through 2037. He was set to earn roughly $21 million in 2022; that sum will still count against the Orioles’ 2022 luxury tax, but Davis will receive it in annual installments through 2025.

After the restructuring, Davis’ 2022 salary effectively functions as a buyout that honors the original deal over time and provides the O's with roster flexibility. At least some of that money is covered by insurance since Davis did not play this season after undergoing left hip surgery.

“After an extended time dealing with my injury and recent hip surgery, I informed the Orioles about my decision to retire effective today,” Davis said in an official statement released by the club. “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 I will cherish forever.”

Davis, 35, debuted with the Rangers in 2008 but found stardom with the Orioles after he was acquired by Baltimore before the ’11 Trade Deadline. The Texas native broke out with 33 homers in ’12 and then exploded for a franchise-record (and MLB-best) 53 round-trippers and drove in 138 runs to earn his lone All-Star selection and finish third in the American League MVP Award ballot. Davis led the Majors again with 47 homers in ’15. Nicknamed “Crush” by O's fans, Davis helped Baltimore reach the postseason in ’12 and ’16. The Orioles signed Davis to a seven-year, $161 million contract, the richest in team history, prior to the ’16 season.

“The Orioles support Chris Davis as he retires from baseball today,” read an official statement from the club. “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,” the statement continued. “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.”

Davis’ immense power came with an equal share of strikeouts; he racked up at least 169 punchouts in every year from 2012-18, including an MLB-most 208 in ’15 and 219 in ’16. His batting average began to dip in ’16 and plummeted to just .169 from the start of ’18 through the end of his career. Davis went 54 consecutive at-bats without a hit stretching from September ’18 through April of the next year. Davis’ dwindling performance, along with mounting injuries, limited his playing time across his final years with Baltimore. His last appearance came in 2020, when Davis was limited to 16 games by lingering knee and back issues.

All told, Davis hit .233/.315/.459 with 295 home runs, 1,852 strikeouts and 11.7 Wins Above Replacement across 13 big league seasons. He retired with 253 home runs in an Orioles uniform, placing him sixth on the franchise’s all-time list. Eleven of those reached the famed Eutaw Street beyond right field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a team record. He and Jill Davis in 2019 also donated $3 million to University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.

Looking ahead to next season, Davis’ departure leaves the Orioles without an active player on a guaranteed contract for 2022, and it could pave the way for the extension negotiations with Trey Mancini. Mancini is the headliner of what could be a nine-player arbitration class; he’s eligible for free agency after 2022. The club also has two veterans on expiring contracts, Matt Harvey and Maikel Franco. The O's $57 million Opening Day payroll was MLB’s fourth lowest, per Cot’s Contracts.

“Today is a day we should be celebrating Chris and all the great things he did here,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said. “Those really good years, he was a fixture in the lineup and a major run producer. A middle-of-fhe-order bat on a really, really good team that had All-Star-caliber years. He’s done so much off the field as well. Great teammate, well liked around the league. I think that will be his legacy.”