Chris Davis and the Orioles agreed to a 7-year, $161 million deal, the largest contract in team history. Can Davis stay productive over the years and help his team improve their MLB odds next season?
Davis, Major League Baseball's reigning home run king signed his new contract last Thursday. The 29-year old, who led MLB with 47 home runs last season, finally resigned with the Orioles after months of back and forth negotiations.
The slugger also finished third in the majors in RBI (117), seventh in slugging percentage (.562) and 13th in runs scored (100). He leads the majors with 159 home runs and placed fourth with 412 RBI and 269 extra-base hits since 2012.
Davis has batted .257/.340/.526 in 618 games since joining the Orioles in 2011, belting a Major League-leading 161 home runs over that span.
The Orioles are expected to put him on first base and he will likely bat in the middle of the lineup behind center fielder Adam Jones and in front of new teammate, outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter Mark Trumbo.
Davis is third on Oriole Park's all-time home runs list (95) and 10th on the team's all-time home runs list.
Will Chris Davis be able to handle the pressure of having to produce now that he has what's easily the richest contract in Orioles history and help make his team a valuable MLB pick?
We can't predict the future but we can project how well he will perform. Davis produced an OPS of at least .827 and hit at least 33 home runs in three of four full seasons with the Orioles. When trying to follow up his 53-home run season in 2014, Davis hit just .196 with 26 home runs, 72 RBIs and a .704 OPS, not bad numbers but not what is expected of him.
He followed that up with three solid seasons, and was named the Most Valuable Oriole twice, while also finishing in the top 14 for the American League's MVP award.
When asked about potential pressure because of his new contract, Davis said "I hope there is (pressure)," which proves that he has the right attitude. The second half of last season proved that Davis can deal with high expectations, as he was playing for his next contract and hit .293 with 16 doubles, 28 home runs and 65 RBIs.
Considering his age, Davis could still be in his prime years for at least two or three seasons and be productive for several years. But, when could his skills start to decline and how will that impact his power?
Davis will be 33 in the fourth year of the contract and he will play the final seasons of his deal at 34, 35 and 36, so some decline is certainly expected.
There is more to Davis besides the home run ball, as he is an athletic above-average defender at first base and runs well for his size. Davis could play other positions and spend the final years of the deal as a Designated Hitter.
Davis' deal might still be risky, given his age and issues with strikeouts, but it also has a huge upside, given that he does not have an opt-out clause.
Orioles fans shouldn't worry about whether the Davis deal is better than what other free agents received, what truly matters is whether Davis can live up to the contract and continue to be a productive player for the next seven years.
It can't be denied that big contracts include some pressure to produce. Fans won't complain about Davis' salary if he is hitting home runs on a regular basis, but money will come up in conversations if he goes through slumps