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Atlanta Braves rumors: Braves among "finalists" to sign Darren O'Day

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Surprisingly, the Braves are still in the running to sign the top free agent reliever on the market. We should know his decision by the end of the upcoming Winter Meetings, and apparently it's still possible that Darren O'Day could choose Atlanta.

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Free agent reliever Darren O'Day is reportedly coming close to making a decision on where he'll be pitching next season. He's apparently narrowed his choices down to three teams -- The Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Nationals, and our Atlanta Braves.

So this appears to be more than just a "Hey, let's take you out to a steak dinner and see if you have even a tiny bit of interest" situation for the Braves, as it appears that the Braves are legit contenders to sign O'Day. As I noted when news broke about the Braves' initial interest in the reliever, it's definitely a weird move for a team in the Braves' position to be making. You'd expect them to sign relievers like Jim Johnson to cheap, short-term, low-risk deals. Meanwhile, Darren O'Day would probably command a few more years and a lot more money, and that's just a bit of a swerve for the Braves at this point in their rebuilding efforts.

While this wouldn't be a problem for a team that figures to be in position to contend next season (or at least attempt a shot at contention), it's a weird fit for a team like the Braves that more-than-likely won't be in contention next season. Of course, this is assuming that the Braves aren't signing O'Day with the idea of potentially trading the reliever for even more assets at some point next season. That's always a possibility, and if O'Day signs here, it could be his potential bridge to a contending team.

It's a similar situation to the Braves' pursuit of Ben Zobrist, in that a lot of teams could use the bullpen help that O'Day would deliver -- teams who are in "Win-now" mode. The Braves' front office may say that they're not tanking, but they certainly aren't going to be in contention (unless the baseball gods decided to spread pixie dust on our beloved baseball team), so this would be an intriguing-yet-weird fit for both parties.

Either way, we'll know by the end of baseball's annual Winter Meetings whether or not Darren O'Day will be an Oriole, a divisional rival, or -- against all odds -- an Atlanta Brave. We'll just have to wait and see what choice one of the top relievers on the free agent market will make here.