Free-agent reliever Darren O’Day appears to be narrowing his list of potential landing places for 2016 and Baltimore has re-entered the conversation.
According to an industry source, the Orioles recently made a formal offer to the 33-year-old right-hander that has been deemed “competitive” compared to some offers he already has in hand. Although negotiations have been ongoing, it’s believed to be the first formal offer the Orioles have made to O'Day since the season ended.
Whether it will be enough to retain one of baseball’s best setup men could be determined soon. O’Day is weighing his offers and there is a possibility he could agree to a contract with a team before the winter meetings start Monday in Nashville, Tenn., an industry source said.
O’Day, who has a 23-8 record and 1.92 ERA while appearing in 68 or more games in each of his four seasons with the Orioles, has become one of the most coveted free agents this offseason because of his past success, reasonable price tag and the importance placed on building formidable bullpens. He is coming off his best season and his first All-Star selection.
O’Day could be in position to land a four-year deal worth $8 to $9 million per season – getting close to or equaling the deal former teammate Andrew Miller received from the New York Yankees last offseason (four years, $36 million).
Each of his known suitors makes sense for various reasons.
O’Day emerged as a team leader with the Orioles and has forged strong relationships with many teammates, fans and manager Buck Showalter.
O’Day’s wife, Elizabeth Prann, is an anchor/reporter for Fox News and works out of Washington, D.C. The couple lives roughly equidistant between Baltimore and Washington. The Nationals desperately need to bolster their bullpen and, coincidentally, Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon and O’Day attended the same high school in Jacksonville, Fla., though they were two years apart.
The Braves are also trying to improve their bullpen and recently added Jim Johnson, a close friend and former Orioles teammate of O’Day’s. O’Day and his wife used to live in Atlanta, he has family there and wouldn’t be far from his hometown of Jacksonville.
The Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball and seemingly can afford a reliever for $30-plus million. Los Angeles is among the country’s largest TV markets, which would be a plus for O'Day given his wife’s occupation.