The Yankees moved to bolster their bullpen, signing sidearming right-hander Darren O'Day to a one-year contract with a player option for 2022, the club announced on Wednesday.
The deal, which will pay O’Day $1.75 million this season, includes a $1.4 million player option for the 2022 season, a source told MLB.com. If O’Day declines the option, there is a $3.15 million player option or a $700,000 buyout.
Right-hander Ben Heller was designated for assignment to clear space on the 40-man roster.
The 38-year-old O'Day was 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA in 19 appearances last season for the Braves. In 16 1/3 innings, he registered 22 strikeouts against five walks, permitting eight hits. Overall, the 13-year big league veteran owns a 2.51 ERA in 604 appearances with the Angels, Mets, Rangers, Orioles and Braves. He's also no stranger to the American League East, having compiled a 2.40 ERA over seven seasons with the Orioles from 2012-18, including an All-Star selection in 2015.
O’Day is historically tough on right-handed batters, having limited opponents to a .186 batting average since his first full season in 2009. That is the third-lowest mark among pitchers with at least 1,200 batters faced over the span, trailing only Kenley Jansen (.161) and Aroldis Chapman (.171).
O’Day projects to be an important part of the late-inning bridge to Chapman, pitching alongside right-hander Chad Green and left-hander Zack Britton.
The signing follows the Yanks’ recent move to jettison right-hander Adam Ottavino in a rare deal with the Red Sox; O’Day, like Ottavino, has historically been tough on right-handed batters. Ottavino was dealt with right-hander Frank German in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
The Ottavino trade freed approximately $8 million for the Yanks’ efforts in remaining under the $210 million luxury tax threshold. Additional bullpen signings are possible, while general manager Brian Cashman has maintained contact with the representative for outfielder Brett Gardner, the club’s longest-tenured player.