The Mets announced tonight that they have acquired left-handed reliever Eric O’Flaherty and cash considerations from the Athletics in exchange for a player to be named later. Fellow southpaw reliever Alex Torres has been designated for assignment to clear space for O’Flaherty on the 40-man and 25-man rosters.
The Athletics designated O’Flaherty for assignment over the weekend to clear a roster spot for trade acquisition Aaron Brooks. The former Braves setup ace was in the second season of a two-year, $7MM contract he signed prior to the 2014 campaign as he recovered from 2013 Tommy John surgery.
O’Flaherty, 30, was sharp in 2014 — his first year back from Tommy John surgery — working to a 2.25 ERA with 6.8 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9 in a small sample of 20 innings at the big league level. His backloaded contract paid him just $1.5MM in 2014 due to uncertainty surrounding how much he’d be able to pitch and $5.5MM in 2015, with the A’s expecting him to be a significant piece in their bullpen.
That didn’t work out, though, as O’Flaherty has struggled to a 5.91 ERA in 2015. While a .354 BABIP has been a significant factor in the regression of O’Flaherty’s ERA, so, too, a marked step back in his control. O’Flaherty averaged just 2.3 unintentional walks per nine innings from 2009-14 after establishing himself as a quality relief option in the Majors, but he’s issued 12 unintentional free passes in 21 1/3 innings this season. On the plus side, O’Flaherty has a track record of success — he posted a 1.99 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 249 1/3 innings from 2009-13 with Atlanta — and he’s dominated opposing lefties in 2015, holding them to a .186/.286/.209 batting line.
O’Flaherty is owed about $1.86MM through season’s end, though the A’s appear to be picking up at least some of the tab there. He becomes the second reliever to make the cross-country journey from Oakland to Queens, as he’ll join former teammate Tyler Clippard in manager Terry Collins’ bullpen.
Torres doesn’t immediately look like a DFA candidate upon first glance, as he’s worked to a 3.15 ERA and struck out 35 batters in 34 1/3 innings. However, Torres has also walked 26 batters this year, and opposing lefties are hitting an alarming .268/.406/.393 against him in 69 plate appearances. Torres’ ERA is largely a product of a minuscule .233 BABIP and a bloated 83 percent strand rate — neither of which figures to be sustainable down the stretch.
A relatively quick DFA certainly isn’t what the Mets had in mind this spring when they traded Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later (Brad Wieck) to the Padres in exchange for what they hoped to be several years of Torres’ services. Torres is not yet arbitration eligible — though he will be this winter — and enjoyed better performances from 2013-14 with the Rays and Padres, so perhaps a team looking for left-handed bullpen depth will give him a look if he’s placed on outright waivers. If not, the Mets will be able to outright him to Triple-A Las Vegas and keep him in the organization with the hope that some time in the minors will help to sort out his command issues.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. This post was originally published at 9:48pm CT.