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Boras, O's making 'great efforts' to right Davis

Agent working with Orioles GM Elias to craft plan to bust slugger out of slump
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

LAS VEGAS -- Over the years, agent Scott Boras and the Orioles have routinely met during the Winter Meetings, often using the annual gathering to lay the groundwork for deals with some of Boras' most prominent clients. This week, the two sides again convened to discuss one of those clients. But the nature of this year's talks centered on a deal that was struck some time ago.

Members of the Orioles' new regime met with Boras late Tuesday to discuss Chris Davis, whose contract and struggles make his future in Baltimore something of an awkward, open question. General manager and executive vice president Mike Elias plans to have a similar in-person meeting with Davis in the near future. The topic will mirror the one Elias and Boras bounced around: how the former slugger can rebound from his historically poor 2018.

LAS VEGAS -- Over the years, agent Scott Boras and the Orioles have routinely met during the Winter Meetings, often using the annual gathering to lay the groundwork for deals with some of Boras' most prominent clients. This week, the two sides again convened to discuss one of those clients. But the nature of this year's talks centered on a deal that was struck some time ago.

Members of the Orioles' new regime met with Boras late Tuesday to discuss Chris Davis, whose contract and struggles make his future in Baltimore something of an awkward, open question. General manager and executive vice president Mike Elias plans to have a similar in-person meeting with Davis in the near future. The topic will mirror the one Elias and Boras bounced around: how the former slugger can rebound from his historically poor 2018.

"It behooves us, and it behooves Chris and it behooves the Boras Corporation to collaborate and share notes on how we can turn his performance around this year," Elias said. "I feel like we'll all be pulling on the same rope in that regard."

In doing so, Elias echoed the comments Boras made to a mass of reporters assembled in the lobby of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Wednesday, the super agent saying the two sides share hopes of "advancing this and getting Chris' abilities on the field."

"We are making great efforts and strides to get it back together," Boras said. "We know he can do it. He's done it so many times for many years."

The question, of course, is how. Davis' production sagged by historic proportions in 2018, when he compiled one of the worst seasons ever by an everyday player. Davis' .168 batting average was the lowest ever for a hitter who qualified for the batting title. He struck out an MLB-worst 37 percent of the time and managed a career-low 16 home runs and 50 OPS+ in 128 games.

Davis is owed $92 million through 2022, so that financial commitment roots him on the roster nearly by default.

"I just want to see his productivity get better," Elias said. "He's on the team. He's on the team for a while."

That Elias even had to clarify that fact speaks to Davis' potentially tenuous future with a franchise he was so recently the face of. The slugger was 29 and coming off two American League home run titles in three seasons when Boras and former GM Dan Duquette inked him to a club-record seven-year, $161 million deal in January 2016. But he's hit just .202 with a .695 OPS since, and has been perhaps the most unspared victim of infield shifting, which has exploded in frequency as he's aged.

Meanwhile, the Orioles' window of contention has slammed shut. The organization is in full transition mode and preparing for a long rebuild. Though they hope 2018 marked a low point, it could make sense for the O's to cut ties with Davis if he continues to struggle, and they can stomach the cost. Boras and Elias' meeting only underscores that possibility.

"He's a big part of this lineup. This team is much worse when he's not a dangerous force in the middle of the lineup," Elias said. "He was personally extremely frustrated with the year he had, and it wore on him. I think turning the page to 2019 will be good for him."

Worth noting
• Elias confirmed Wednesday the club expects two other veterans, Mark Trumbo and Richard Bleier, to be fully recovered from injury by the start of 2019. Trumbo underwent right knee surgery on Aug. 29, while Bleier is rehabbing from a torn left lat that limited him to 31 games in 2018.

Adam Jones is in attendance at the Winter Meetings this week, though it is unclear whether the free-agent outfielder is meeting personally with clubs. Teams have reportedly met with his representatives, though, including the Mets. Asked about Jones on Tuesday, Elias did not close the door on a possible reunion in Baltimore. But the two sides, at this juncture, are far from a perfect match.

Jones, 33, is seeking a multi-year deal. And the O's don't expect to explore the free-agent market until late in the offseason, and when they do, they'll be eyeing bargains.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.

Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis