Chris Davis was one of the hottest hitters in baseball in the first week of the season, though he has cooled off over the past couple of games. Still, his historic four-game start to the season probably prompted casual sports fans across the country to ask themselves, “Who is this Chris Davis guy and where did he come from?”
Well, everyone here in Baltimore knows that the Orioles acquired him from the Texans Rangers before the trade deadline in 2011. But Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has shared some interesting details from the deal.
As it turns out, the Orioles more or less bought the slugging first baseman from the Rangers for $2 million.
Rosenthal chatted with former Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who made the savvy deal with the Rangers in his final months on the job back in 2011. MacPhail said the Rangers only wanted to give up pitcher Tommy Hunter for reliever Koji Uehara, but MacPhail was pushing for the Rangers to also throw in Davis, then a 25-year-old with power potential who kept getting shuttled from the big leagues to the minors.
“MacPhail said he had a plan to make it happen -- trade first baseman Derrek Lee to the Pittsburgh Pirates to save about $2 million, then include that money in the deal for Davis, who would replace Lee,” Rosenthal wrote in his latest column for FOX Sports. “The deal, then, would be cash-neutral -- the Orioles also would send a small amount of cash to the Pirates, but save a small amount in the exchange of Uehara for Davis and Hunter.”
It turns out that was enough to get the deal done.
And in hindsight, the deal clearly favored the Orioles
Uehara made 22 appearances down the stretch for the Rangers and then pitched poorly in the playoffs that fall. But in 2012, Uehara pitched well for the Rangers, posting a 1.75 ERA in 37 games. He signed with the Boston Red Sox this past offseason.
Hunter, who is now 26, flopped as a starter last season, but he is starting to find a meaningful role in the bullpen. With a fastball that gets clocked in the upper 90s, he could become a nice asset there.
And then there is Davis, who was obviously the steal of the deal. He batted .270 with 33 home runs and 85 RBIs last season. This season, the 27-year-old started with four home runs and 16 RBIs in his first four games, setting an all-time record. For that, he was named the American League Player of the Week last week.
And to think, Davis might still be slugging in Texas if not for the two million bucks netted in the unremarkable Derrek Lee trade.