Chris Davis announced his retirement from baseball on Thursday morning. The Orioles’ first baseman, who twice led Major League Baseball in home runs and signed a team-record, seven-year $161 million contract, retired with just over a season left on that deal. Davis, 35, has been on the injured list throughout the 2021 season.
“After an extended time and dealing with my injury and recent hip surgery, I informed the Orioles about my decision to retire effective today,” Davis said in a Tweet released by the team.
“I want to thank the Orioles’ partnership group, led by the Angelos family, the Orioles organization, my teammates and coaches. The University of Maryland Children’s Hospital with whom I will continue to be involved following my retirement, and, of course, Birdland. Thank you for all the many memories that I will cherish forever.
Dan Connolly, of The Athletic, reported: “According to industry sources, the Orioles will pay all of Chris Davis’ salary for the remainder of his contract. However, the $17 million owed in 2022 (not including $6M deferred) will be spread over several years so that the Orioles don’t have to pay a lump in 2022. He still gets paid thru 2037.”
And that, “According to sources, Davis’ hip injury was much more serious than initially thought. Was degenerative and dysfunctional and he knew he could no longer play with it while rehabbing. So he came to the Orioles and they worked out a settlement that frees up payroll in 2022.”
Davis was acquired from the Texas Rangers on July 30, 2011 along with pitcher Tommy Hunter for reliever Koji Uehara.
In 2013, Davis led the majors in home runs with 53 and runs batted in with 138. After a 25-game suspension for use of a stimulant without a prescription in 2014, Davis again led the majors in home runs with 47 in 2015. In January 2016, he signed the huge contract.
Davis hit 38 home runs and drove in 84 runs in 2016 but led the major leagues with 219 strikeouts. Things got steadily worse after that.
In 2018, Davis hit just .168 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs. Between September 14, 2018 and April 13, 2019, Davis went hitless in 54 at-bats.
He ended 2019 with a .179 average, hitting his final 12 home runs and producing 36 RBIs.
Last year, Davis was on the injured list because of a knee injury and hit only .115 (6-for-52) with three RBIs. His final game was on September 11, 2020 when he was hitless in three at-bats in the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
He batted twice in the Orioles’ first spring training game this year, then didn’t play again.
The Orioles thanked Davis in a statement: “The Orioles support Chris Davis as he retires from baseball today. We thank Chris for his 11 years of service to the club, to Orioles fans, and to the Baltimore community.
“Athletes have the power to change lives and better their communities, and Chris and his family have done just that. We admire their dedication to those most in need, with hundreds of hours of community work completed, millions of dollars donated, and countless other charitable efforts performed, often without fanfare.
“For every inning played and home run hit, hour of service completed and amount donated, the Davis family has made an immeasurable impact on our city and on Orioles baseball. We send our best wishes to Chris, his wife Jill, and their daughters Ella, Evie, and Grace, each of whom will forever be part of our Orioles family.”
As a player, Davis will be remembered for hitting 253 home runs in an Orioles uniform, seventh most in team history, and for pitching two innings in relief in the Orioles’ 9-6 win over the Boston Red Sox in a 17-inning game on May 6, 2012.
He also left his mark for his charity work, which continues. In 2019, Davis donated $3 million to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.