Back in a November 1st article on the potential suitors for 33-year-old free agent reliever Darren O'Day, Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly wrote that he thought the Washington Nationals looked like a "perfect fit," for the eight-year veteran, who spent the last four years pitching out of the Orioles' bullpen.
O'Day headed into free agency after a 2015 campaign which saw the O's late-inning arm go (6-2) with six saves, a 1.52 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 14 walks (1.93 BB/9) and 82 Ks (11.30 K/9) in 65 ⅓ innings pitched.
Washington made sense, Connolly wrote, because the Nationals, "... desperately need to fortify their bullpen and always seem to find money to buy players," and, he added, "O'Day's wife, Elizabeth Prann, is a Fox News Channel anchor and reporter based out of Washington and the couple lives in between the two cities for commuting purposes."
Upgrading the bullpen depth has been a goal from the start for Nats' GM Mike Rizzo this winter, as he explained in a recent MLB Network interview, after the Nationals struggled to hold leads and bridge the gap to the back of their 'pen throughout the 2015 campaign and then lost a number of relievers to free agency.
"We need to get deeper," Rizzo said. "We need to have a more veteran presence. We need to have a greater skill set to get out both right-handers and left-handers and we're going to be active in that market, be it the trade market or the free agent market, because we think it's a point of emphasis for us."
O'Day held opposing hitters to a combined .198/.257/.283 line in 2015, with left-handers putting up a .207/.293/.333 line against him and right-handers posting a .192/.236/.256 line.
He checks all the boxes for the Nats.
He gives the Nats depth at the back-end of the bullpen, gives them a veteran presence, and gives them a reliever who can retire both left and right-handed hitters.
The Orioles, however, as Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Connolly, again, wrote earlier this week, made what they thought was a "competitive offer" to O'Day recently.
At that point, Connolly wrote, O'Day was, "weighing offers" with a decision possible even before the Winter Meetings begin next Monday.
"The Orioles might not be considered the front-runners," Connolly noted, "but appear to be in the final conversation, along with the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers and others."
Connolly tweeted that the Nationals were "clear front-runners" in the O'Day market on Friday night, and MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported that a source told him it was down to a choice between the Mid-Atlantic rivals.
Citing a "baseball source", Ladson wrote that the Nats and Orioles were, "... in the lead for the services of the veteran reliever," and though one report on MLB.com cited a source who said a deal with the Nats could get done on Friday, "... another source said the Orioles were still in the mix."