The current Atlanta Braves rebuilding process has taken plenty of twists and turns so far this offseason, and we're only in November. The latest curve in this rollercoaster comes from a report from Ken Rosenthal that the Braves have emerged as the "highest bidder" for free agent reliever Darren O'Day.
The bullpen is a focus for the Braves, sources say. Coppolella repeatedly has said that the team is intent on improving upon its 67-95 record from last season.
O’Day, viewed by many as the top reliever on the open market, is seeking a four-year deal between $28 million and $36 million, sources say.
The Braves likely view O’Day as a potential closer. [RHP Matt] Thornton, 39, is coming off a strong season with the Nationals, and would serve in a setup role if the Braves signed him.
Braves GM John Coppolella has repeatedly claimed that the Braves aren't tanking, and potentially signing the top reliever on the market would seem to back up those claims. As if that wasn't enough, the Braves are also reportedly in the running to sign Matt Thornton as well.
Granted, the Braves wouldn't have to do too much in order to improve what was one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball last season, but going after Darren O'Day (who had a 1.52 ERA, 2.49 FIP and a 3.05 xFIP for the Orioles last season) and Matt Thornton (2.18 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 4.50 xFIP) would seem to indicate that the Braves are dead serious about improving that bullpen and are willing to spend pretty big in order to do so.
It's always risky to pay big money for relievers, but Darren O'Day may be one of the rare cases in which paying a pretty penny for a reliever may work out fine for the team that's buying. The Braves will probably end up battling the Dodgers for O'Day's signature, and if they do end up signing O'Day, that'd definitely be concrete proof that the Braves aren't tanking.
It'd also be another weird turn for them to take during this rebuild (with the Nick Markakis deal being one of the first weird turns), but we all signed up for this wild ride so we may as well buckle our seatbelts and brace ourselves for the next twist and turn that the Braves have in store for us for the Hot Stove season.
UPDATE (11:58 PM EST) -- Mark Bowman has come through with a tweet of clarity, here. Apparently the Braves may be out of the bidding for O'Day since his price has apparently gone up.
While the #Braves might have had initial interest in O'Day, that interest has evaporated as his cost has risen.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) November 20, 2015