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Life Lessons

When a Hire Just Doesn’t Work Out

Let’s face it.
The more people you hire, the more chance you have that something will go wrong.
And, boy, is that true for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team this year.
Chris Davis, a high-profile and highly paid player of theirs, is having an historically bad season. And he’s getting paid more than $20 million for it. Even worse, the contract runs through the 2022 season and Davis is 32 years old, so the odds of things getting better are not very good.
Davis and the Orioles are not alone when it comes to relationships that begin with great hope and then for whatever reason do not turn out the way everyone hoped. Of the millions of hires made each year, some people just never fit in. Others get sick and can’t deliver. Still others wind up as little performers with big resumes.
None of this is meant to pin blame on Davis. You can have a legitimate debate on how much he was worth when he signed his seven-year, $161 million deal in 2016. You can argue whether or not the Orioles overpaid for a one-dimensional player.
But you can’t dispute that things are a mess now, and the Orioles find themselves stuck with an asset who is not an asset. What does any organization do in a situation like that?
The options aren’t great.
First, the Orioles could keep putting Davis in the lineup in hopes that he can work his way out of his slump. There is the belief in baseball that only by playing can a hitter “find his stroke.” The obvious question is how long can the team afford to wait when the production simply isn’t there? Patient managers can get fired.
A second option would be to put Davis on the bench and give someone else a chance. But then the team would be paying somebody $21 million a year to do nothing.
In either of those two options, the Orioles can support Davis with the considerable resources available to any big-league team — video analysis, tips from coaches, sessions with a sport psychologist, etc.
A third choice, if his contract allowed it, would be to send Davis to the minor leagues. The demotion would be embarrassing both for the team and for Davis, but he might benefit by getting out of the big-league spotlight for a while. He could even play winter ball — a high calibre of ball that, again, is out of the spotlight.
Finally, the team could release Davis and eat the contract. Kissing the remaining $80 million goodbye isn’t something any team would want to do, but, as noted earlier, there are no good options at this point.
To sum up, whether it’s baseball or any other organization, there are only a few options when a hire doesn’t work out. One is to keep the performer and provide coaching. Another is to shift the person’s role and hope that some down time can help. Finally there’s the worst option — letting the person go.
The best thing is to understand that hiring is the most important thing a any company does.


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