2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Darren O’Day

Let’s be honest; when a GM is drawing up his payroll allotment, I think any GM worth his salt is going to be looking to pay a guy about 12 million bucks to throw 7.1 innings for him. And with Darren O’Day, that’s exactly what Alex Anthopolous got.

I’m kidding, of course, but not about what they got out of Darren O’Day. At one point, there was a reason to be suspicious as to whether or not he actually was employed by the Atlanta Braves, or even existed as a human. But that’s because O’Day was acquired in the 2018 trading deadline deal that landed the Braves Kevin Gausman, and taking on his salary was meant to reduce the prospect haul. He was recovering from a hamstring injury at the time, and there were no expectations O’Day would pitch for the Braves in 2018.

But there were expectations that O’Day would pitch in 2019, but this time an elbow injury meant that they would only get those aforementioned 7.1 IP in the 2019 season. There’s not much statistical breakdown to give you; he pitched 5.1 innings in the regular season, giving up one run while notching six strikeouts against one walk. And it was enough to garner a spot on the playoff roster, where he was quite helpful. In the 5-game series, O’Day appeared in 4 of them, 3 of which were to come in and get a key righty in games 1, 3, and 4. He pitched a full inning in mop up duty after… ya know, Folty happened.

Give O’Day another Day in Braves Uni?

Not sure if Atlanta will bring him back. He’s only pitched 25.1 regular season innings in the last two years between Baltimore and Atlanta, and he’ll be 37 next year. I would say that if his market value is in the $3-4M range for a one year commitment, then I think that makes sense for Atlanta based on where they are. I’m not sure, though, if another team will like his experience, chalk up his absence the last two years to two unrelated injuries, and ink him to a larger deal. At that point, I think the Braves would look at internal options and using those dollars elsewhere.

25 thoughts on “2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Darren O’Day”

  1. I like O’Day and I think I’d like to see him back in 2019 on an incentive-laden deal based on outings. Maybe a base of 2MM and an extra 500K for every 10 outings over 20? If he gets to 80 outings, that would be good for the Braves and he’d get paid 5MM. Thoughts?

  2. I’m with both of you guys on O’Day. And this is a great time to get him as he needs a pillow contract to recover value and he has a couple of good years left in him. Since he does not rely on velo, he will be able to pitch longer than the traditional fireballing reliever.

    He will, of course, give up the occasional HR. He is not the total lockdown he was a few years ago. But I would guarantee he’d be more effective and reliable any pitcher we didn’t carry on the playoff roster and especially any of the relievers we rolled through and let go or traded out last year.

  3. @1 I love the idea there with the contract structure, but might 5 million be light for 80 appearances? I’m thinking the bonuses might have to escalate a bit at the 60 area. If not, he might be safer taking a 3-4 million guarantee somewhere; which I think he’ll get.

    I’d like to see him back though, budget permitting. Other needs would come first for me. However, in the playoffs, Fried and O’Day were the two RP I felt most confident in when they came in. I think he’s a valuable asset.

  4. I think it’d be unlikely for a reliever as good as O’Day to agree to a deal where if he toed the rubber 80 times, he’d only make $5M. I think teams would pay even a ROOGY closer to $10M if they got 80 G, 60 IP out of a veteran. If I was O’Day, I’d be looking for that cost structure though.

  5. Just a general question: Would another year of depressed free agent salaries point to collusion by the owners? Would another player getting $250M+ point to no collusion?

    For me, it’s a clear strategy by the owners: throw insane AAVs and even total dollars at the truly elite players, and beat the hell out of the veteran players who don’t project well enough going forward.

  6. @10 I’m already of the belief there has been some collusion by the owners to drive salaries down. It’s very real, even if it’ll naturally never be admitted. Harper and Machado might’ve got paid last year, but they were fortunate to be superstars hitting the market in their mid 20s. That’s going to be rare.

    The whole system plays to the owner’s favor in almost every possible way. There’ll be a handful of players every year whom get paid enough to create plausible deniability, but most players are being squeezed.

    I also don’t believe it’s coincidence that the ball was altered this past season. The HR barrage became the talking point, and there was hardly a mention of the QO guys left to sit on the market until June.

  7. What’s more, it’s not just older veterans being squeezed. Now they’re looking at eliminating 20% or so of the minor leagues. They’re shrewdly hiding the cuts behind the idea of giving minor leaguers raises, which have been long overdue for decades. Of course getting those raises would be like pulling teeth, if not for the fact that they’re planning to save money with a smaller workforce.

  8. A few things on O’Day:

    2016: 0.1 fWAR
    2017: 0.8 fWAR
    2018: 0.4 fWAR
    2019: 0.1 fWAR

    His ERA from 2016-2018 was 3.59.

    Take the name away because it doesn’t matter anymore. O’Day would be lucky to get 5MM from any team.

    That’s no small sample. At 37, he’ll be very lucky to get 5MM guaranteed.

  9. Well, right, but he never made 80 appearances within that time. So the hypothetical of paying him that bonus based on 80 appearances probably means he’s about a 1 bWAR pitcher for that season. From 2012 to 2015, he had appearances of 69, 68, 68, and 68. Then 34, then 64, then 20, then 8. So if he took the incentive-laden deal that Ryan described, then his realistic best case is a $4M deal, and in return the team would get about 0.8 bWAR with a whole bunch of WPA based on his usage, and that’s still probably a little low for that production.

  10. @14 I don’t know a lot about WPA, but my thought process is similar. If he’s healthy enough to reach 60-80 appearances, he’s going to generate 1 bWAR. The question with O’Day isn’t ability, it’s his health. If he’s healthy, and able, he’s going to pitch well. He’s proven that over time.

    The team protects itself with the incentive laden deal, which would be plenty understandable. I don’t think, as a team, you can essentially ask the player to not only assume most of the risk with an incentive laden contract, AND take what will realistically project to be a below market salary if he proves health. To me it’s got to be one of the other- either here’s a below market guarantee, or you bet on yourself with an incentive laden deal. I’m not saying go crazy with the bonuses, either. I think you have to give him a fair shot at 7 million though, if he pitches.

  11. Isn’t next year when the “pitchers must face 3 batters minimum” rule come into effect?

    I imagine that will further depress the earning potential for right or left handed specialists.

  12. @16 That’s happening next season?


    So what, they’re not allowing managers to manage to win the game anymore? I can’t stand Manfred, or his stupid ideas. Why can’t baseball just have a Commissioner who leaves the game alone? Why all the tinkering? Has there ever been a decent Commissioner? I only really have known Selig and this clown. Not a fan of either.

  13. Remember, even Blevins pitched to 3+ batters in about 70% of his outings last year. It isn’t as big a handcuff as some of us are making it out to be, especially seeing how Snitger is still our manager.

  14. @19
    I would argue the opposite. Blevins was lights out against left handed hitting last year. He got hit hard against right handed hitters. If he was used correctly, he would have a nice shiny ERA snd earned himself a few more million for 2020.

  15. Oh I totally agree Ryan, I was just pointing out that the “Atlanta” loogy role is different from everyone else’s thanks to Snit.

  16. O’Day is not now and never has been a ROOGY. He doesn’t have very much of a split. I think he was used lightly to slowly increase the workload on his arm. By next season, he should be back to his normal self working full innings regardless of the three batter rule.

    However, I am in total agreement about the incentive contract. Just have to find where his market is and play off of that.

  17. @23
    You serious, Clark? (Yes, we are officially into the Cousin Eddie season of bad jokes).

    .553 OPS vs RHHs
    .714 OPS vs LHHs

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