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With Darren O'Day signing, a good Oriole stays with the Orioles

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Darren O'Day has been a good Oriole for four years, and now he's signing with the Orioles for another four years. With the O's payroll situation, it's more complicated than that - but on its own, it's a good thing.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With Darren O'Day and the Orioles earlier agreeing to a four year, $31 million contract, another player who has been a big part of several successful Orioles teams is back in the fold. O'Day has been good for the O's for four years running. Now he'll be an Oriole for four more years. That is a good thing.

Quality relief pitching is getting more expensive in the present day of baseball, even for players who haven't been closers racking up a bunch of saves. The same day that the news of O'Day's signing broke, another relief pitcher also agreed to a deal with a team: Ryan Madson signed with the Athletics for a three-year deal worth $22 million. Madson had a good 2015, but he missed all of 2011-14 and he's two years older than O'Day.

With baseball players as they age, you never really know, of course. Three years from now, Madson could have completed his contract successfully while there's dread about that fourth year for O'Day. Looking at things based on recent history, though, the contract the Orioles worked out with O'Day looks a lot better than what the market is paying other relief guys. That is also a good thing.

One more good thing is that the team the Orioles beat out to sign O'Day was the Nationals. That's more of a good thing for Orioles fans who have the Baltimore-Washington regional rivalry on a continual low simmer than it is for the O's team. The thought of people at Nationals games being the ones to do the "O'Day, O'Day, O'Day, O'Dayyyyyyy" chant, assuming they stayed at the game long enough to see him pitch, was not an appealing one in any way.

According to Dan Connolly at The Baltimore Sun, the Orioles were able to land O'Day over the Nationals because, despite the Nationals offering a higher average annual value to the contract, they were only offering three years while the O's offered four. It's a risk for the O's to take, but not a terrible one given how O'Day has performed under manager Buck Showalter.

The ever-burning payroll question

The only way that the O'Day signing is at all questionable is when you start to consider the larger question of how his signing may impact what the team can do elsewhere on the free agent market. Each decision the Orioles make affects this picture.

It's not much fun to argue over dollars, especially since the answers to the key questions are unknowable to fans. How much money can the O's spend responsibly? How much can they spend if they're willing to get just a bit irresponsible and pay for it later? They would surely not be the only people in America to go over budget on their Christmas shopping.

There is some upper limit to each of those questions, even if we don't know exactly what it is. However much money was available, a few million of that is now going to O'Day. If the yearly salary is constant through the contract, he'll add about $8 million to the payroll next year, putting the team around $117 million in payroll commitments.

Based on the pattern of the past several years, which has seen the O's payroll go up by $10 million per year, I've been working with the assumption that the budget is $130 million. If that's right, we're at the point where you can forget about Chris Davis returning to the Orioles. That $13 million worth of room isn't getting Davis back in Baltimore. A Davis signing would now put the payroll in the $140 million range, and even that would still leave them not having answered the departure of Wei-Yin Chen.

Maybe the Orioles have looked at the starting pitching market and decided they don't want to mess around with that. Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, one of the qualifying offer-attached free agents, just landed a five year, $90 million contract coming off of a season where he posted a 4.96 ERA. If the choices come down to a pitcher who gives up a lot of dingers or a hitter who hits a lot of dingers, well, I know which one I would pick.

Not for nothing, the outspoken Adam Jones, in his typically vague way, appears to be pleased with O'Day returning.

O'Day has never pitched for a losing Orioles team. O'Day himself is a big reason why he has never pitched for a losing Orioles team. Now he'll be an Oriole for four more years. The bigger picture is more complicated than just that, but for today, a good Oriole is remaining an Oriole. That is a good thing.