Chris Davis, the 2013 Most Valuable Oriole and third-place finisher in American League Most Valuable Player voting, avoided arbitration Friday and signed a one-year deal worth $10.35 million, more than tripling his $3.3 million salary from last season.
Davis might have been able to push it and attempt to get the highest salary ever awarded in an arbitration hearing, but instead he will settle for being the club’s third-highest-paid player behind outfielders Nick Markakis ($15 million in 2014) and Adam Jones ($13 million).
Here’s what Davis, who won’t be a free agent until after the 2015 season, had to say in a telephone interview Friday afternoon:
What’s your initial take on the agreement?
“It’s obviously more money than I’ve ever made, more money than anyone in my family has ever made. But I think you have to look at the body of work, what went into it, not only on my part but also on the club’s part. The fact that the club was willing to put that figure out there and let me know that, one, they really appreciated the hard work that went into last year and, two, that they are willing to pay guys what they deserve.”
What were your thoughts on your salary situation once the club dealt closer Jim Johnson because it appeared he would make $10 million in 2014 through arbitration?
“I think it made it really interesting. Obviously, my agent, Scott Boras, and I have talked and wondered about the priorities and our situation. Jim was not only a great pitcher, but a great guy in the clubhouse and [the trade] was a big blow to us. So, we were just waiting to see what the club was thinking in terms of the future. But I’m ecstatic. I’m ecstatic not only about [the contract], but of being in Baltimore another year.”
You said in September that you wanted to stay in Baltimore for many years. Do you still feel that way, and did you discuss a multi-year deal this winter?
“I obviously would love to stay in Baltimore. It’s a place, like I’ve said before, that really feels like our second home. I was kind of a castoff, so to speak, with the Rangers, and I really could re-establish myself in Baltimore and was able to be part of a 2012 team that was so magical -- not only for the fans, but for the players.
"I think Peter [Angelos] and Dan [Duquette] and Buck [Showalter] know how much I love Baltimore and how much my wife and I enjoy being out in the community. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people around there and I couldn’t ask for a better fan base. We obviously would love to be there long-term, but I understand it is a business, and that decision doesn’t rest solely on us.
"As far as I am concerned, I’d love to be here. I’d love to wear a Baltimore Orioles uniform for the rest of my career, but I don’t know if there were any talks about multi-year deals. It was brought up last year at one point, but nothing has come to a head on that yet.”
Will your role and responsibilities change now that you are among the team’s highest paid players?
“I don’t think so. I think I put a lot of responsibility on myself. The money is just that. It is money. I don’t think most great players are solely motivated by the money. They are mainly self-motivated, motivated by the competition. And they try to get better. I had a great year last year, personally. But as far as the team is concerned, we didn’t reach our goal. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to make a run at the World Series. And that’s something that is important to me. No matter how great your individual stats may be, if you don’t make it to the postseason, it’s really not for a lot.
"I think more than the money and more about how much I am going to make, it’s really about getting back to the postseason and giving Baltimore another opportunity to have more home games in the postseason. The ones we had in 2012 were so much fun and I really want to see what it’d be like to have an ALCS there or a World Series there.”
What was your reaction to the trade that sent Johnson to Oakland for infielder Jemile Weeks and a minor leaguer? What are your overall thoughts on this offseason and on 2014?
“I think it’s a little bit frustrating to lose a guy like Jim. He was such a big presence in the clubhouse, not to mention what he meant to us on the field. He was a leader, our player rep and I know a lot of guys turned to him for advice, whether it was about their careers or their lives. So, he was a big part of our team. So, it was a little frustrating to see him go and not really get as much as we probably could have in return.
"But I am excited about [Jemile] Weeks. I think he could be a very exciting player. He was when I was in Texas and I had a chance to see him a little bit [with Oakland]. He has a lot of upside. But, for us, starting pitching obviously is going to be the issue again for us. We have some young guys who can still improve this year, but we still lack that really experienced starter, a guy that has gone through the fire and really knows what to expect, because he’s been around for a while.
"I think we have a lot of young guys that we can count on and are going to have to step up. But, you know, in one way it tells us that management feels confident with the group of guys we have. But at the same time, I think we all realize we are going to have to buckle up and get ready to strap it on for another season.”
What are you going to do with the extra money (he and his wife, Jill, are expecting their first child, a girl, on May 31)?
“You know me and my rock star lifestyle. We’ll probably stock up on a life’s supply of Pampers and baby toys. Honestly, the reason I get so excited about the money is because my faith is obviously huge for me, and I feel like this is an enormous blessing from God. And I feel like we are going to be able to impact a lot of people who may have not gotten opportunities otherwise.
"That’s where first my mind goes, to the people we can reach out to and really touch and help. Obviously, we can have a little better lifestyle. But at the end of the day it is just money and it is not going to change who we are and where we came from. And I think that’s going to be important to remember.”