The New York Yankees announced on Wednesday that they have officially signed right-handed pitcher Darren O’Day to a one-year contract that extends through the 2021 season with a player option for 2022. Should O’Day decline the player option, there is a club option for 2022 as well. The Yankees also announced that to make room O’Day on the 40-man roster, they have designated right-handed pitcher Ben Heller for assignment.
O’Day, a Jacksonville, FL. native University of Florida alumni, is a veteran in the Major Leagues. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the University of Florida on May 29, 2006 by the Los Angeles Angels.
Prior to signing with the Angels, as a Senior at the University of Florida, O’Day had the lowest earned run average (2.91) among Gator pitchers and was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Watch List. He was 3-2 his senior season and collected eight saves, recording 52 strikeouts over the course of 55.2 innings pitched in 2006 for the Gators. He was also an SEC Pitcher of the Week in February 2006.
Over the course of his career at UF, O’Day was 23-9, with 190 strikeouts, giving up just 41 walks, and 78 earned runs over the course of 223.2 innings pitched in 117 appearances for the Gators.
Since signing with the Angels, O’Day has spent time with the Los Angeles Angels (2008), New York Mets (2009), Texas Rangers (2009-2011), Baltimore Orioles (2012-2018), and Atlanta Braves (2019-2020).
O’Day, 38, was 4-0 in 2020, with a 1.10 ERA for the Atlanta Braves. He had 22 strikeouts and just five walks over the course of 16.1 innings of relief pitched for the Braves, and had a WHIP of .80. He ranked fifth in WHIP, sixth in ERA, and eighth in H/9.0 innings pitched among national league pitchers. He also allowed just two earned runs in 2020.
Over the course of his 13-year career, O’Day is 40-19, with a 2.51 ERA. Over the course of 576.2 innings pitched, the right-handed pitcher from Florida has struck out 600 and given up just 430 hits, 173 runs (161 earned runs), 158 walks, and 59 home runs. According to MLB.com, since his Major League debut in 2008, O’Day has the fourth-lowest ERA (2.51) among qualified relievers.
O’Day was a 2015 American League All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles, a 2007 AFL rising Star with the Surprise Rafters, a 2007 Cal Mid-Season All-Start, and a 2007 CAL Pitcher of the Week.
In 2020, O’Day, the sidearmer from Jacksonville also ranked 16th in the National League with four wins. According MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, O’Day is known to be tough on right-handed batters, limiting them to just a .186 batting average since 2009.
The signing of O’Day bolsters the bullpen for the Yankees. It is expected that O’Day, husband to CNN journalist Elizabeth Prann, and father of three, will play a role in later innings alongside Chad Green, Zach Britton, and Aroldis Chapman.
O’Day will be an exciting addition to the Yankees bullpen and it will be interesting to see exactly how the later innings shape out for New York as the season progresses.