In 2011, Chris Davis was a 25-year-old hitter who toggled between the Texas Rangers and the minors. He clobbered minor league pitching, but couldn’t stick in the majors. Entering that season, the Nationals were searching for a first baseman after Adam Dunn left for the Chicago White Sox through free agency. The Nationals’ targets for a first baseman that season were, among others, Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche.
LaRoche eventually signed with the Nationals for two years and $16 million. LaRoche’s first season was cut short to 43 games because of a torn left labrum and surgery, and Michael Morse emerged with a breakout season and filled it at first base. LaRoche then recovered and produced a 30-home run, 100-RBI, Gold Glove season in 2012. At some point in 2011, however, the Nationals were also highly interested in Davis and loved his potential, according to a team source.
Davis was eventually traded to the Baltimore Orioles in July 2011 in a now well-documented trade. Davis, now an all-star, and right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter went to the Orioles in exchange for right-handed reliever Koji Uehara and $2 million. Davis broke out this season with a mind-boggling 37 home runs before the all-star break and rose to fame. Hunter has a 2.41 ERA this season. Uehara posted a 4.00 ERA the rest of that season with the Rangers, was injured the next and is now with the Boston Red Sox.
Davis knew entering the 2011 season that season he could wind up on another team, but didn’t know who they were.
“We had heard in spring training a couple of teams but we didn’t know anything,” Davis said during a media session with other all-stars at Citi Field on Monday. “I knew I was out of options after that year and so I was figuring the team was probably going to trade me to get something for me instead of having to put me on waivers. I actually hadn’t heard anything a few weeks leading up to the trade deadline and was a little down, not because I wasn’t going to be traded, but because I was still in Triple-A and Baltimore came in at the last minute and found out I was traded and was excited for another opportunity.”