The Chicago Cubs have a couple times been mentioned as among the more serious suitors for free agent reliever Darren O’Day, but that means only so much when (1) the guy is the clear top reliever on the market, and (2) there are at least a half dozen teams seriously connected to him.
While it’s still a matter of some dispute just how much money the Cubs will be able to spend this offseason, it is not in dispute that, whatever the amount, it is not unlimited. With clear needs in the rotation and in center field, then, adding a pricey reliever could be seen as the kind of move the Cubs cannot afford. For my part, I still think they should be aggressive in this area, but I could understand if this yields a firm application of the foot to the brake:
Sources: O’Day asking for four-year deal in $28M to $36M range. Most accomplished reliever on open market.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 18, 2015
To be quite sure, I can totally understand why O’Day would be asking for Andrew Miller/David Robertson money this offseason in a down market for relievers. O’Day has been crazy awesome for a long time and is a good bet to continue to be so, if you believe this very enjoyable and thorough take by Jeff Sullivan.
Indeed, if you buy the argument that O’Day is good for about 1.0 WAR per year over the next three or four years, and you factor in that his performance will typically be coming in some of the most important, highest-leverage innings, you start seeing that O’Day is probably worth $10+ million per year. If, that is, he lives up to projections. Sometimes guys don’t, but O’Day’s been this guy for four straight years. He’s 33 years old now, and maybe you see decline coming, though, and that might be the biggest risk.
Maybe it’s too much for the Cubs to commit $30+ million to a reliever. I don’t think I could blame them if they drew the line at something closer to the three years and $21 to $24 million O’Day was seeing in some of the early projections.
But, boy, I sure would like to see them at least get up there in that range and see what happens in O’Day’s market.