O'Day hopes O's keep strong 'pen together

O'Day hopes O's keep strong 'pen together

BALTIMORE -- If this offseason has shown anything so far, it's that it's a pretty good time to be a reliever. And the Orioles are in the fortunate spot of already having an enviable bullpen, which includes plenty of arms other teams covet.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette admitted as much at the Winter Meetings, adding that the 'pen is a strength he'd like to see remain so. Guys like Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens have all drawn interest and -- should they continue to perform at a high level -- the O's relief corps could be even better in 2017.

How? A healthy Darren O'Day.

The setup man appeared in just 34 games for the Orioles last season, posting his highest ERA (3.77) since 2011 while with Texas. Baltimore was able to grab O'Day on a waiver claim that offseason.

"It's the same pattern that happened to me in 2011. I hurt my lower body, came back and hurt my shoulder," O'Day said of this past season. "And then if you look at 2012 through 2015, I was healthy for four years, so let's hope that's the same thing [in 2017]. I feel awesome. Everything feels good ... so I'm excited to get back. I don't see anything dragging into next season."

Count O'Day among those in favor of Duquette keeping all of his relievers and not using them as trade chips.

"You're seeing what teams are willing to pay and give up for these high-end relievers, and it's crazy. It's awesome. I understand that," O'Day said. "The bullpen is our strength and you can look at it through both lenses. It's an advantage because we already have it. We don't have to go out and spend for it or trade for it, so if we keep it together, we already have what all these teams are trying to put together. We can shorten games, and we're ahead of other teams in that facet."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has been hailed for his bullpen usage in the past, and the O's have been competitive in recent seasons in large part because of their outstanding relief.

"It started with the bullpen emphasis, and now what you're going to see is you're going to see teams looking for two-inning guys, dominant two-inning guys," O'Day said at last week's OriolesREACH Holiday Party. "They want, kind of what Buck has been doing. He's not afraid to send us out there for five, six outs.

"Other teams started doing it in the playoffs. We did it most of the year, so a reliever like Brad, that's why he's so coveted. He's a guy who can go out and throw three innings and he's got dominant stuff. I think you're going to see teams start searching for those extended relievers, and valuing them even more than just a guy who can only throw two outs or matchup guys. It's encouraging to see teams valuing their bullpen guys more."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.