Chicago Cubs: Reliever Darren O’Day drawing plenty of interest


The Chicago Cubs could bolster their bullpen by adding top-tier reliever Darren O’Day this winter.

In recent weeks, we delved into the stellar work that Cubs closer Hector Rondon turned in during the 2015 campaign, setting a new career-high in saves after losing and regaining the ninth-inning duties early in the year.

That being said, the bullpen and starting rotation could both use  an upgrade or two – and pitching will no doubt be the prime focus of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer as we roll into next month’s Winter Meetings down in Nashville.

For the second-straight winter, a former Baltimore Orioles hurler headlines the free agent class of relievers – with Darren O’Day following former teammate Andrew Miller to the open market.

Last year, O’Day, 33, pitched to a 1.52 earned run average across 68 contests, earning the first All-Star selection of his big league career. The submarine-style righty averaged a career-best 11.3 punchouts per nine to go along with an equally impressive 2.8 WAR, according to Baseball Reference.

2015 marked the fourth-straight season in which O’Day posted an earned run average south of 2.30 and a WHIP under 1.000 – which will only help boost his stock this winter, despite the fact he’s heading into his mid-30s.

In the pursuit of O’Day, the Chicago Cubs will face a familiar foe – at least according to Jerry Crasnick – who says the Los Angeles Dodgers are pursuing the former O’s reliever “big time.”

As Crasnick points out in his tweet, this is his second source to suggest the Dodgers are pursuing O’Day, which would hardly come as a shock given the Dodgers’ first-round exit from the postseason.

The exact course of Los Angeles this offseason remains murky given their need to bring back an ace-caliber pitcher while repeatedly stating they’re looking to shed payroll and get younger. Either way, though, O’Day would be an important piece for the Dodgers in 2016.

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The same, of course, could be said for the Cubs, who are coming off an impressive 97-win regular season. Not only is the former Baltimore, Texas and Anaheim reliever a quality piece, but he also brings postseason experience to the table, as well.

Granted, the results aren’t exactly what you’d like to see (5.02 ERA in 14.1 IP), but the experience is valuable, nonetheless. But with such a promising asset comes a less-than-savory price tag; O’Day is reportedly seeking a deal in the range of $28 to $36 million over four years after leaving the GM Meetings with “several offers in-hand.”

The Chicago Cubs will no-doubt add payroll as they look to set their sights on a National League Central crown in 2016. While it may seem like a stretch, to some, to see the Cubs push that $8 to $9 million AAV on a deal for a reliever headed into his mid-30s, keep in mind that last season, they gave Travis Wood nearly $6 million to be a mop-up man for most of the year.

With that piece of knowledge tucked away, adding a high-powered arm like O’Day to the bullpen mix doesn’t seem so far-fetched and most certainly cannot be ruled out.