Washington has joined Los Angeles "at the top of the Darren O'Day pack," according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick also points out the club's bullpen could look significantly different by the time the 2016 season gets underway.
Why this rumor makes sense
Washington has been connected to O'Day in the past, but it appears they now might be more aggressive in attempting to sign the free agent reliever.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported Saturday the Nationals could have an edge because O'Day's wife is a television reporter working in the Washington, D.C. area. O'Day is reportedly hoping to receive a four-year offer between $28 and $36 million, which the Nationals could be in a position to give him if they move multiple other pieces this winter.
The Nationals' bullpen was inconsistent throughout the first half of the 2015 campaign, and as a result the club acquired Jonathan Papelbon before the non-waiver trade deadline. The club's bullpen collectively pitched to a 3.40 ERA, the tenth best in baseball, last season. However, there still appears to be room for improvement.
O'Day would likely be the ideal middle reliever for the Nationals given his recent success. Over 65.1 innings with the Orioles last season, he pitched to a 1.52 ERA and 2.49 FIP. His ERA has not been higher than 2.30 in each of the last four seasons, making him an ideal relief option late in games.
Why this rumor doesn't make sense
Although the Nationals might be open to investing in a top reliever, they could also benefit from signing a pair of middle relief arms that might not be as expensive.
Washington could get outbid, since the Dodgers and Braves are also interested. O'Day's family lives in the Atlanta area, making that another realistic destination. Los Angeles could probably give him the biggest contract and would also likely benefit from the additional bullpen help.
The Tigers, Mets, Cubs and Red Sox have also been linked to O'Day.
Likelihood overall: 4/10
There remains a chance the Nationals land O'Day because of his wife's ties to the area and the organization's need for bullpen help. However, there will likely be other clubs who can give him a larger contract, which would force the Nationals to look elsewhere to improve their bullpen.