Reliever Darren O'Day couldn't pick just one reason for why he decided to sign a four-year, $31 million deal with the Orioles that became official Monday night.
There are the teammates that he's become close with during his four years with the Orioles. There's unfinished business of getting to a World Series after making the playoffs twice in Baltimore.
There's manager Buck Showalter, whom he implicitly trusts to get the most out of him and the team. There's the city that has embraced him and his wife, a Washington, D.C.-based TV reporter for Fox News, and a fan base that sings his name whenever he pitches. And then there's the contractual specifics; the fact that the Orioles offered a fourth year of security and limited no-trade protection so the 33-year-old could have better control of where he plays in the future.
All of that factored into his decision. And there was one more thing, too, something veteran players begin to think about as they get older: His legacy with a storied franchise.
"That's another reason Baltimore was the right place for me," O'Day told The Baltimore Sun. "If I play the whole contract here, eight years in Baltimore, I could find myself on some of the organization's leaderboards. … It's a pretty historic and hallowed organization and to be able to hang around long enough to be on some of its leaderboards, that means a lot to a player."
O'Day has pitched in 273 games with the Orioles in four years. If he continues that pace, he would become just the second Oriole to pitch in at least 500 games, joining Hall-of-Famer Jim Palmer, who is first with 558. Reliever Tippy Martinez is second with 499.
For a while, O'Day thought he was going to play his next few years in Washington. He said he was "really close" to signing with the Nationals, but the Orioles came in with a guaranteed fourth year that showed their commitment. The Nationals offered more money annually, but only three years guaranteed.
"We had some momentum with the Nationals and then the Orioles came in with an even better offer," said O'Day, who will attend a news conference at Camden Yards on Tuesday afternoon. "You've got to take into account what we've done in the past four years here and the good times we've had and the quality of guys we have in this lockerroom. I enjoy coming to the park every day."
He said many of his teammates were following along with the negotiations, hoping their bullpen leader would return.
"It was pretty cool. A lot of them were texting me for updates throughout the process," he said. "For a while Baltimore wasn't in on it and they all figured I wasn't coming back. And then they started hearing some rumors I might be back and the guys started getting excited, and I did, too."
For a former college walk-on at Florida who honed his sidearming style in a "beer league," wasn't drafted professionally and bounced around four organizations without ever being traded, it's been a crazy ride for O'Day, who was considered baseball's top free-agent reliever this offseason.
"My agent sent me my transaction page, four different teams and never been traded once. I've always been designated or the Rule 5 [draft]," he said. "It's been an interesting career and I look back and see a lot of people that helped me along the way."
He'll now have four more years with a fan base that chants "O'Dayyyyyy, O'Day, O'Day, O'Dayyyy," every time he pitches.
"I throw funny, so they know when I'm pitching, even the casual fan can tell when I'm pitching, and I have a funny last name they can use in a song," he said about his status as a fan favorite. "Baltimore is a blue-collar city and that's kind of the team we are. I think that's the mentality people have and they've embraced us here."