It appears that Washington is a possible destination for free agent Darren O'Day as he embarks on his quest to find a new team. The Nationals reportedly stepped up their efforts to woo the reliever just as they begin a hunt of their own to upgrade their bullpen, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
The team is among several others who are eyeing the right-handed pitcher, who is previously reported to be seeking a four-year contract in the $28-36 million range. However, Washington is said to be a likely choice for O'Day, along with Los Angeles. The Nationals and the Dodgers are among the early favorites to win the 2016 season, and both clubs could certainly use O'Day's talents.
This rumored move may hold some merit as the free agent's wife works as a television reporter based in Washington, D.C. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman noted that it could potentially give the Nationals an edge over other suitors.
Washington's interest in O'Day is likely fueled by his recent promising performance. He spent the past four seasons in Baltimore and despite his team's struggles, O'Day had a relatively outstanding season. In his first All-Star Game in eight major league seasons, the 33-year-old managed to deliver an ERA of 1.52, along with 82 strikeouts and 14 walks over 65.1 innings pitched.
Other clubs reported to be targeting the player are the New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals and the Chicago Cubs. For this offseason, O'Day is expected to be the first big-ticket free agent reliever to sign a new contract.
Apart from Darren O'Day, Washington is also looking to add in low-risk veterans. The Washington Post reports that the team has signed outfielder Chris Heisey and infielder Scott Sizemore to minor league deals. Also, the Nationals extended the non-roster invitation for spring training to both players.
The 31-year-old Heisey appeared in more than 30 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the last season while batting .182/.347/.327 with a pair of home runs and nine RBI over 72 plate appearances. The Dodgers released him in August, but eventually reacquired him weeks later for a minor league deal with Toronto. Heisey was on the team's 40-man roster as the season ended. However, after clearing waivers and getting sent to Triple-A in early November, he elected free agency.
Meanwhile, Sizemore joined Washington in August, then hit .426 in 14 games. He did not participate in the majors this year, slashing .263/.369/.354 at Triple-A. He only appeared in eight major league games since 2011. Sizemore may have an opportunity to earn a utility role with the Nationals following spring training, but it is also possible that he spends much of the season back in the minors again.