Orioles’ Chris Davis considered walking away from baseball after 2019 season

The last two seasons have been a horror story for the Baltimore Orioles. They went 47-115 in 2018, the worst record in the history of a franchise that dates back to 1901, and 54-108 in 2019, the third most losses in franchise history. The O’s have lost 223 games the last two seasons, 11 more than any other team.

The last two seasons have also been a horror story for O’s first baseman Chris Davis. Once one of the most feared power hitters in the game and an MVP finalist, Davis has authored a .172/.256/.308 batting line in 874 plate appearances the last two years. At one point he went an MLB record 62 plate appearances between hits.

Davis turns 34 next month and Monday morning he told reporters, including MLB.com’s Joe Trezza, he considered walking away from the game at the end of last season. Ultimately, he decided to return this year because he believes “there’s still something left in the tank.” Here’s more from Trezza:

“I know what I’m capable of. I know what I expect of myself. I don’t want to continue to just struggle … That’s not fair to these guys. That’s not fair to our fans or anyone associated with Baltimore. But I still think there is something left in the tank … The only reason I would’ve walked away was if I physically felt like I couldn’t do it any more. And that was not the case.”  

Davis added he is not going to overhaul his swing — “Am I going to do anything drastic in the box? The answer is no. I hit how I hit,” he told Trezza — mostly because he’s tried that already. Several times too. He’s worked with the team’s hitting coaches and his own hitting coaches, and tried to make adjustments, and nothing’s worked.

The Orioles benched Davis for long stretches of time last season, instead giving Trey Mancini and Renato Nunez the lion’s share of the playing time at first base and DH. They were essentially playing with a 24-man roster. MLB is adding a 26th roster spot this year and that will make it easier to carry the unproductive Davis, though that’s hardly ideal.

“Right now I want to be an everyday player,” Davis told Trezza. “I consider myself an everyday player and I think it’s the case until its proven otherwise.”

There’s also the matter of the contract. Davis is still owed $69 million through 2022 and walking away would mean forfeiting all that money. He’s already banked over $110 million in his career to date, but still, no one in their right mind would leave that much money on the table. No one forced the O’s to give him that contract. Davis should get what’s coming to him.

Baltimore will again be very bad this season, and while carrying Davis on the roster seems like a waste of time — there is basically zero chance he will be part of the next contending Orioles team — there’s also little downside. He’s not blocking a young player at the moment, and the team can see whether something clicks and if he can contribute in any way.

It seems likely the Davis saga will end with the O’s releasing him at some point (they’d still owe him the remainder of his contract). Maybe this spring, maybe at midseason, maybe in two years. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but it feels inevitable. For now, Davis will continue to try to right the ship, and the Orioles will continue to rebuild the organization around him.

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