SAN DIEGO -- Baseball super-agent Scott Boras made an extended metaphor about major league teams as different species of birds Tuesday at the winter meetings, but his comments on one bird in particular -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis -- were straightforward.
The representative that negotiated Davis' massive seven-year, $161 million contract in 2016 that has proven to be disastrous for the club as the one-time slugger's performance has slumped said what he essentially says every year at the winter meetings: that he and his team were talking with Davis and the Orioles on a path forward.
"I'm always concerned when a player's not performing to the level of his ability," Boras told reporters. "I've already had talks with the organization and levels of my staff have had talks with the organization. We've been in communication with CD, always trying to garner an approach and an improvement of his performance. "
Davis spoke confidently at the end of a 2019 season, in which he was essentially a part-time player, about the path forward he'd set with executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias on the best way to maximize his performance going forward.
The season began with a baseball-record hitless streak, featured a dugout dustup with manager Brandon Hyde in the middle, and ended with a miniature surge that included a pair of home runs in the final week that raised his season batting average to .179 with a .601 OPS and 12 home runs.
But the season as a whole continued a downward trajectory since that contract was signed. Davis had 38 home runs and a .778 OPS in his first year of the deal in 2016, but struck out a league-high 219 times. In the three seasons since, he's hit .188 with a .626 OPS and an average of 18 home runs per season.
Elias said at the end of the season that Davis would be on the team come spring training, and that the Orioles took the fact that he was signed for three more years seriously, regardless of performance.
Most of the team's comments have been focused on getting Davis to play better while he's under contract, and Boras' annual winter meetings press scrum is typically focused on the same thing. Last winter, Boras said he'd met with Elias and the Orioles' staff on a way to get Davis on track.
"We've had many players who have got great histories, and physically when you know they're well," Boras said a year ago. "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."
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