Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Nats Lose Darren O’Day Sweepstakes To Orioles


One of the Nationals’ primary targets elected to go back to the Orioles. What is next for the team trying to revamp their bullpen.

Earlier this morning, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and MLB Network reported that Darren O’Day chose to go back to the Baltimore Orioles rather than go to the Washington Nationals. The two sides have agreed to a four-year deal worth $31 million, but O’Day tweeted that nothing has been finalized yet:

The Nationals have never given any reliever more than a three-year deal in their franchise history, but O’Day was one of those relievers that could fill multiple roles in the bullpen, whether it be as a setup man, closer, or seventh-inning guy. The 33-year-old right-hander went 6-2 in 69 games last season with a 1.52 ERA and had six saves in 11 chances. Three of those saves came against Washington in September at Nats Park.

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Yes, the Nationals did lose out to their beltway rivals, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Nats offered him the most money in terms of average annual value, but it was the guaranteed fourth year that got it done for the O’s. Washington has never given a fourth year for a reliever, so it’s understandable that the Nats didn’t want to take that risk.

O’Day received calls from players such as Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman to come to the Nation’s Capital, according to Heyman:

With the Winter Meetings officially beginning tomorrow in Nashville, the bullpen is going to be one of the main priorities the front office has to address. They have already signed Oliver Perez to a two-year deal, but they have to figure out if Jonathan Papelbon and/or Drew Storen will stay in DC in 2016 or will they be traded?

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With O’Day agreeing to go to Baltimore and Ryan Madson signing a three-year deal with the Oakland Athletics, the setup reliever options are starting to come off the board. There are still intriguing options left such as Joakim Soria, Tony Sipp, or Steve Cishek to name a few. Plus, the Nationals could look to deal for a closer such as Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon, or Andrew Miller.

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So, while the Nats did not get the player they wanted for the bullpen, they did make it a tough offer to turn down and showed that they are serious about fixing this bullpen. Going forward, It will be interesting to see whether Mike Rizzo and the front office go the free agent or trade route to find solutions for the ‘pen.