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Baseball: Davis officially back with the Orioles
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Baseball: Davis officially back with the Orioles

FIRST BASEMAN FINALIZES THE RICHEST CONTRACT IN FRANCHISE HISTORY

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BALTIMORE — Chris Davis slipped on the No. 19 Orioles jersey, smiled broadly and said, “Feels familiar.”

After spending much of the offseason wondering if he would continue his baseball career in Baltimore, Davis formally signed a $161 million, seven-year contract Thursday, a deal that includes $42 million in deferred money that won’t be fully received until he is 51.

The deal was announced in a news conference at Camden Yards, where the reigning major league home run king has been hitting long balls for the Orioles since the middle of the 2011 season.

“Not only do I get the opportunity to spend the majority of my career in one place, but the opportunity to be with a franchise that has had so much success in the past and has so much history,” Davis said. “It’s something that not a lot of guys get the opportunity to do.”

Davis, 29, became a free agent after the 2015 season. He was pursued heavily by the Orioles, who finally struck a deal over the weekend pending a medical examination.

“We always had Chris as a primary target to sign through the winter,” said Dan Duquette, the Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations. “You know, these deals, they have their own timing. Some take a while. Some get done quickly.”

And now, Davis is the highest-paid player in the history of the franchise.

Davis will receive salaries of $23 million annually, but $6 million a year is deferred without interest. He will receive 10 payments of $3.5 million each July 1 from 2023–32 and five payments of $1.4 million every July 1 from 2033–37.

“I understand the commitment that was made,” the first baseman said. “And to me, it’s actually a flattering, more humbling gesture that the Orioles decided to make this kind of commitment to me. It really motivates me to work that much harder and do everything I can to show them that their faith was well placed.”

Davis had 47 homers and 117 RBIs last season. Since 2012, Davis leads the majors with 159 home runs and ranks fourth with 412 RBIs. He’s been with the Orioles for only 4 1/2 years, but is 10th on the team’s career homer list with 161.

Since the conclusion of the 2015 season, there was really only one question on the mind of every Oriole fan in the city: Will Chris Davis return to the Orioles?

“I don’t know how many places I went this year where people said, ‘You’ve got to sign Chris Davis,’” Duquette said. “So I know he’s got a lot of fans in Baltimore that follow the team and love to see his prodigious home runs.”

Davis’ agent, Scott Boras, would not divulge how many teams—if any—competed to sign Davis.

“You know, when you go to a wedding, you never talk about your girlfriends,” Boras said.

The return of Davis is the highlight of an offseason in which the Orioles retained three key free agents. Earlier, catcher Matt Wieters accepted the team’s qualifying offer and setup man Darren O’Day signed a four-year, $31 million contract.

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