New Yankees reliever Darren O’Day wanted to sign with a team looking to win in 2021. Unfortunately, that list was smaller than he would have liked.
O’Day spoke with Moose & Maggie on Friday about his decision to join the Yanks and his free agency process, and the 38-year-old reliever expressed his concern about the lack of teams chasing championships, with many seemingly searching for profits over pennants.
“I know the team tries every year and is pretty consistent and contending for that championship,” O’Day said of his decision to sign a one-year deal with the Yanks. “That’s a big deal. Not all the teams in baseball are really trying right now, and at this point in my career, I definitely wanted to land somewhere with the best chance to win, and we have a great group of guys that can do that.”
The Yankees are projected to land in the top of the American League East in 2021, while divisional rivals like the Red Sox have traded away their entire outfield from the 2018 World Series group, including superstar Mookie Betts, and the Rays have dealt away a number of key contributors from last year’s American League championship group, including Blake Snell. For O’Day, a 13-year veteran, he would like to see more teams pushing for titles like the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres.
“It’s an issue, it really is,” O’Day said. “I understand the owners and the GMs have a business to run and they’re looking for profits, but I feel like if you’re going to own a sports team, you do it to win. There’s other ways to make money if you already have that much money. I’d like to see more teams be competitive every year. It’s great for the game and brings out the best in all the players. It’s something moving forward that I think we can do better with.”
O’Day believes some front offices have fallen into the mindset where if they don’t expect to be among the few favorites to win the World Series, then making smaller additions to produce more wins isn’t an attractive proposition, especially if it doesn’t dramatically change the bottom line.
“I think the owners have determined that those marginal wins…if you win 80 or 86, it doesn’t matter, the fans are still going to come out,” O’Day said. “I think that’s what they’ve determined. It’s an issue.”
O’Day doesn’t feel that issue in the Bronx, where the Yankees hope to reclaim the division title and get back to the ALCS for the third time in five seasons, only this time, reaching the next step and a World Series berth.
“It’s pretty simple, I want to win a championship,” O’Day said. “If you win one in pinstripes, it’s kind of legendary. The fanbase never forgets the teams that win. To have an opportunity to be a part of that is really what attracted me.”