It’s official. The Orioles have signed Chris Davis to a seven-year, $161 million contract. The deal became announced after the 29-year-old Davis passed his physical.
According to reports, Davis will defer $42 million of the reported $161 million on the deal. He’ll receive $17 million a year from now until the end of the contract in 2022. Davis gets $3.5 million from 2023-2032, and $1.4 million a year from 2033-2037. He’ll be 51 when the Orioles commitment to him ends.
The contract is nearly twice the size of the largest previous contract, a six-year, $85.5 million extension given to Adam Jones in May 2012.
Davis, who turns 30 in March, has led the major leagues in home runs twice in the last three years. He hit a club record 53 in 2013 when he also led the majors with 138 RBIs, and last year hit 47. In the last four seasons, Davis has averaged about 40 home runs a year.
He came to the Orioles in July 2011 from the Texas Rangers along with Tommy Hunter in exchange for pitcher Koji Uehara. Davis became part of Orioles lore in May 2012 when he pitched two scoreless innings in the team’s 17-inning win at Fenway Park.
Davis’ darkest moment came in Sept. 2014 when he was suspended for 25 games for use of Adderall without a prescription. He hit just .196 with 16 home runs.
Missing the Orioles’ 2014 run to the American League Championship Series, Davis sat out the first game of the 2015 season, then played all but one of the team’s remaining 161 games.
The 2015 season didn’t start well. Davis was batting just .208 with eight home runs on May 26, but as the season went on, he got hotter.
After the All-Star break, Davis hit .293 with 28 home runs and 65 RBIs in 74 games.
When the season ended, Davis’ chances for returning to Baltimore weren’t seen as high, but managing partner Peter Angelos made clear to his agent, Scott Boras that he wanted to retain the slugger.
During last month’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., word leaked that the Orioles had offered Davis a seven-year, $150 million contract.
He didn’t accept, and later that week at FanFest, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said the contract was no longer on the table.
The mutual interest between Davis and the Orioles continued, but the stalemate continued until last week when word surfaced the team was ready to move on from the slugger and offered a contract to free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Early Saturday morning, word came that Davis and the Orioles had come to terms.
This week, there have been reports that the Detroit Tigers, who signed B.J. Upton to a lavish six-year contract, were interested in Davis, but that General Manager Al Avila preferred Upton. The Tigers were presumably the only real competition that emerged for Davis.
As the season ended, six Orioles became free agents, Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Darren O’Day, Gerardo Parra, Steve Pearce and Matt Wieters.
Wieters accepted a $15.8 million qualifying offer in November, O’Day signed a four-year, $31 million contract last month, and now Davis returns.
Few thought there was much of a chance of Davis, O’Day and Wieters returning, but back they are. The Orioles, who long had been criticized for their lack of aggressiveness in pursuing free agents, have shown a willingness to spend in baseball’s new megamoney age.
NOTE: To make room for Davis on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated infielder/ outfielder Joey Terdoslavich for assignment.
MORE ORIOLES: What are realistic expectations for Chris Davis?