Orioles fans are glad to see that first baseman Chris Davis will remain in Baltimore long term after the 29-year-old slugger made his club-record seven-year, $161 million deal official Thursday, but there are mixed reactions regarding the events that led to his return.
Some were disappointed it took well into January to get a deal done, possibly hindering the team's ability to pursue other free agents to improve the team, and that it took more than the Orioles' initial $150 million offer to finalize an agreement with Davis' agent, Scott Boras.
Still, the way Davis spoke during his about his desire to remain in Baltimore — as well as his bond with the Orioles fan base — seemed to resonate with fans who weighed in via email.
"I wasn't sure how I'd feel either way — I knew the money he was looking for as a free agent was a lot, and could be potential to further improve the pitching and the outfield," wrote Margaret Hooper, a 27-year-old who grew up in Baltimore but now lives in San Francisco. "However, listening to Chris at his press conference yesterday, I realized how happy I am that he's coming back.
"Baltimore gave Chris a chance, and though it's not been 100-percent smooth sailing, hearing how much it meant to him to be able to call Baltimore home for the larger portion of his career resonated with me. The leadership that he, Darren [O'Day] and Matt [Wieters] bring to the clubhouse is something that we as fans can't understand the full impact of, but they've all mentioned each other and what a big deal it is that they're all coming back. That means something to me. They're proud to play for the Orioles, and that's really cool."
Despite the club investing nearly $215 million this offseason in free agents, including keeping Davis, O'Day and Wieters in Orioles uniforms, fans said there's still work to do to make the team competitive in 2016. The Orioles still have holes to fill in the starting rotation and corner outfield, and waiting on Davis left few remaining options on the free-agent market.
"I'm glad to see Davis back in the Orioles uniform," wrote Patrick Johnson, 45, of Dundalk. "However, to not address the other needs on the team with proven major leaguers is just as big a crime. … We are not going to outscore everyone and win."
Johnson said he would like to have seen the Orioles make a play for outfielder Denard Span, who signed a three-year deal with the San Francisco Giants. The Orioles were interested in only a one-year deal with Span because of his recent injury history. Johnson would also like to see the Orioles sign right-hander Doug Fister, but more importantly, lock up third baseman Manny Machado long term.
Armand Sadlier, 58, said that he believed the Orioles might have overpaid for Davis, especially given his high strikeout numbers, but was pleased to see ownership commit to winning now with a core of Davis, Adam Jones and Machado locked up through 2018.
"I think [managing partner Peter G.] Angelos knows his obvious window for a [World] Series is the next three years, and he went for it," wrote Sadlier, who lives in Highland. "Good on him. … From purely a stats and projections view, it was an overpay. However, in terms of his character, his commitment to fitness, his athleticism and the message it sends to his teammates, the fans and the marketing around the 'Crush' persona, make it a fantastic move."
Tommy Kyle, a 20-year-old from Elkridge, said he was "annoyed by the whole situation," saying it took too much time for a deal to get done.
"The O's offered him a reasonable deal," Kyle wrote. "And he backed out. The O's pretty much waited for his move and had to settle at $161 million, when they could have got [Yoenis] Cespedes and signed someone like Pedro Alvarez to play DH. I'm happy that we got someone of Davis' caliber back, but I felt we overpaid for his services and could end up hurting us in the long run."
Hetty Haden, a 64-year-old Reisterstown resident, has been an Orioles fan for four decades and considers herself a big fan of Davis.
"I am happy that he is back with the team," Haden wrote. "It does show a commitment to winning from the ownership and management, but they should not stop there. We still have a pressing need for at least one more proven starter and corner outfielder. However, there are not many viable free-agent options left, and I blame Scott Boras for the lengthy holdout that handcuffed the team and kept them from making the necessary moves a lot sooner."
Davis might still need to win some fans back, like Christopher Mills of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Mills, who became an Orioles fan because he was drawn to Cal Ripken Jr. growing up, said he was disappointed that Davis didn't jump on the initial deal offered to him. Mills said that the Orioles stood by Davis through his 2014 suspension for unapproved Adderall use and surprised most in the industry with their first offer to the slugger, but it still took more to get a deal done.
"[The Orioles] made him an offer very few people expected them to make," wrote Mills, 33. "They shattered preconceived notions of their lack of willingness to spend to keep their own players, and Chris' response was [like], 'Meh, I'll pass. I want more,' even though no other team at the time — or since, as far as we know — offered him anything close to that. ... I'm glad he's back and part of the lineup; we need him. But from a character standpoint, I'm extremely disappointed in his handling of this whole situation and it'll be difficult for me to have the respect for him that I did before."