After being connected to several teams this offseason, veteran relief pitcher Darren O’Day has chosen to re-sign with the Baltimore Orioles on a four-year, $31 million deal.
— CBS Sports MLB (@CBSSportsMLB) December 6, 2015
O’Day, 33, has been a mainstay in the Orioles’ bullpen over the past four seasons. While he’s been effective for the Orioles in each of those four seasons, his performance in 2015 was the best of his eight-year career.
Serving as the Orioles’ set-up man, O’Day made his way into 68 games for Baltimore — his fourth straight season of appearing in at least 68 games. Through 65-and-one-third innings, O’Day pitched to a 6-2 record with a career-best 1.52 ERA. He also recorded a career-high six saves and posted a career-high 11.9 K/9 rate. O’Day made his first All-Star team in 2015, too.
That elite level of production is the reason several teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Washington Nationals were all interested in bringing O’Day aboard. The Nationals were reportedly the runner-up to acquire O’Day as the team is looking to move on from Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon.
Also, O’Day’s wife, Elizabeth Prann, is a reporter for FOX News Channel in Washington, D.C., which gave the Nationals hope they could lure O’Day away from Baltimore.
Towards the end of the 2015 season, O’Day spoke with the Baltimore Sun about possibly returning to Baltimore in 2016 and beyond. He expressed interest in doing just that.
“They’ve expressed interest. I know they like me as a pitcher and as a person, so, yeah, I’d love to come back if they’d like to have me back, so we’re going to continue talking about that. I’ve had a good run of things the past four years and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t keep talking about it.”
O’Day started his career with the Angels in 2008, making his way into 30 games that year. But, the University of Florida product’s stay with the Angels did not last long as he was selected by the New York Mets in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft. His stint with the Mets did not last long, either, as the team designated him for assignment just two weeks into the season. O’Day made only four appearances for the Mets.
The Texas Rangers claimed O’Day off waivers from the Mets, viaNJ.com. Outside of an injury-shortened 2011 season, O’Day’s two-and-a-half year stint with Texas was a productive one as he compiled an 8-3 record with 1.98 ERA in 132 games for the Rangers from 2009-2010.
After 2011, the Orioles bought low on O’Day, claiming him off waivers from the Rangers, perMLB.com. From 2012-2014, O’Day evolved into one of the American League’s most reliable relievers and a model of consistency in Baltimore. Since 2012, O’Day has not pitched in less than 68 games, 62 innings or posted an ERA higher than 2.28.
In the same interview with the Baltimore Sun, O’Day talked about expecting to have a long career in baseball.
“You know, I’ve already been in the game for so much longer than I ever thought I would be. Just to be able to play this game this long, it is exciting. I never thought I’d get to my seventh or eighth [season]. In that aspect, it is exciting.”
With O’Day back in the fold, the Orioles still have some decisions to make regarding some of their free agents. First baseman/outfielder Chris Davis is still on the open market as the premiere power hitter available. He’s expected to land a deal north of $200 million and the St. Louis Cardinals are interested.
Finally, lefty Wei-Yin Chen is drawing interest from the rival New York Yankees and several other teams.
[Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images]