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Braves decline Darren O’Day’s option for 2021 season

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Atlanta will save $3M by declining the veteran righty’s option for 2021.

MLB: NLCS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If the first few days of the offseason is any indication, players are about to really feel the financial ramifications of COVID-19 and a season without any fans in the stadium.

In yet another roster casualty that likely would not happen in normal times, the Braves have declined Darren O’Day’s option worth $3.5M for 2021. He is owed a $500K buyout.

O’Day joins a growing list of players to have their options declined (or even released to waivers), including Indians closer Brad Hand, Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong and Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton. There will be more in the coming days.

O’Day, who the Braves acquired at the 2018 trade deadline, did not make his Atlanta debut until September of 2019 but pitched well whenever given the opportunity, posting a 1.25 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 31.8 K% and 6.8 BB% across 27 appearances and 21.2 innings. He was part of one of the league’s best bullpens in 2020, although he did struggle in the postseason with an 11.57 ERA over five trips to the mound.

It’s a shame to see O’Day let go, especially when he was deserving of the reasonable $3.5M payday he was potentially owed. Every dollar will seemingly matter this winter, and saving a few dollars on a 38-year-old reliever is not the worst way to trim salary, although it is a sad sign of the times we are in.

Update - The Braves have made the move official.