The Baltimore Orioles were expected to have a short leash with Chris Davis this year. Chances are, no one expected it to be this short.
There have already been plenty of words spent on Chris Davis‘ 2018 campaign. The Baltimore Orioles first baseman had an utterly embarrassing season, posting a horrific .168/.243/.296 batting line with just 16 homers in 522 plate appearances. It got to the point where an area bar was offering free shots if Davis got a hit.
The Orioles had hoped that with an offseason to clear his head, Davis might be able to come back as some semblance of the player he once was. Those hopes were likely dashed in Spring Training, as Davis posted a .189/.318/.432 batting line in 44 plate appearances. He did hit three homers and drew seven walks, but also struck out 19 times. Although that production was marginally better than his 2018 campaign, Davis was likely entering the season on a short leash.
That leash may have only been one game. After he was 0-3 with three strikeouts on Opening Day, Davis was held out of the lineup on Saturday. Trey Mancini was given the start at first, in part because Davis was dreadful against left handed pitching last season.
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For now, the Orioles are saying all the right things as it pertains to Davis. Manager Brandon Hyde said that he still regards him as a key part of the lineup. Hyde also stated that Davis is not a part of a platoon at first; instead, he will be playing according to the matchups.
In reality, the Orioles have no choice but to let Davis play and try to work through his struggles. He is due to receive a total of $92 million from this season through 2022. That contract is completely untradeable at this point, an albatross that will hang over the Orioles payroll for the next four years. They need to find some way to get value out of that deal, even if it means being particular about when Davis plays.
However, there comes a time when the complete lack of production overrides financial concerns. Davis has not been an above average hitter since 2016. If he puts together another season similar to his 2018 campaign, without providing much value defensively, the Orioles may want to consider moving on. It might be the best for both parties to move on, with Davis getting a fresh start someplace else.
The Baltimore Orioles are already holding Chris Davis out of the lineup. On the heels of his awful showing on Opening Day, the leash may be getting shorter.