Chris Davis, Orioles first baseman, talks about the Orioles' plans to rebuild and his expectations and hopes for the 2019 season. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun video)
Agent Scott Boras, giving his annual comments at the winter meetings in front of a massive Christmas tree in a fire-hazard of a media briefing at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, said he's held discussions with Orioles officials this week about the best way to get maligned first baseman Chris Davis back on track.
Davis, who has four years left on a seven-year, $161 million contract signed in January 2016, endured one of the worst seasons in baseball history in 2018, batting a career-worst .168 with 16 home runs. It was worth -3.1 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.
Boras, who negotiated that deal for Davis, on Wednesday outlined their approach to getting him back to his slugging form.
“We’ve had many players who have got great histories, and physically when you know they’re well,” Boras said. “We’ve been in discussion with the Orioles, just last night as a matter of fact, about advancing this and getting Chris’ abilities on the field. We know he can do it. He’s done it many years, many times, and obviously, we’re making great efforts and strides to get him back to being normal."
Davis' presence on a young, rebuilding roster certainly flies opposite to what the Orioles are trying to do under new executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias. Davis said Tuesday at the team's charity holiday party that he understood the role he'd need to assume on and off the field, and that his offseason has been spent "being able to catch my breath and not just to forget about what happened last year, but really think through it and try to understand what’s going on and fix that and keep it from happening again.”
Davis said he was encouraged to hear that Elias, at his introductory news conference last month, noted how meaningful a productive Davis would be to the team.
During his briefing Wednesday, Elias characterized the meetings with Boras’ team as routine with representatives of players the Orioles have, but said it “behooves us and it behooves Chris and it behooves the Boras corporation to collaborate and share notes on how we can turn his performance around this year.”
“It was a great discussion,” Elias said. “I really feel like we will all be pulling on the same rope in that regard. I haven't talked to or met with Chris yet. I'm waiting to hire a manager first, but I'm looking forward to doing that.
“He's on the team. He's on this team for a while. I just want to see his production get better. He's a big part of this roster. He's a big part of this lineup. This team is much worse when he's not a dangerous force in the middle of the lineup. He's here. He's a good teammate. He cares a lot about the Orioles. I know that he was personally extremely frustrated with the year he had, and it wore on him. I think turning the page to 2019 — new front office, new manager, probably some new coaches — will be good for him.”
Around the horn
Elias said two Orioles players whose seasons ended with surgery last year — left-hander Richard Bleier (lat tear) and outfielder/designated hitter Mark Trumbo (knee) — are progressing well in their rehabilitation and are on track to begin 2019 healthy. … Elias said that while he’s heard nothing but good things about former Orioles outfielder Adam Jones since taking the job, he was viewing the free-agent outfielder in the same vein as other players on the market. He said he anticipates the Orioles being slower and later to that market than other teams might.