JANUARY 23: O'Flaherty's contract has a unique structure: he will earn $1.5MM this year and $5.5MM in 2015, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He can potentially boost his 2015 base salary by up to $3.5MM through bonuses for games pitched, games finished, and days spent on the roster.
JANUARY 22: The Athletics continued to bolster their bullpen today, as they announced the signing of left-hander Eric O'Flaherty to a two-year contract. O'Flaherty, a client of the MVP Sports Group, is recovering from 2013 Tommy John surgery and expected back on the mound in July. His deal is reportedly worth a total of $7MM.
O'Flaherty was a dominant force coming out of the Atlanta 'pen from 2009-13 after being selected off waivers from the Mariners, posting a 1.99 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 to go along with a 54.6 percent ground-ball rate. While he's unquestionably better against left-handed hitters, as one might expect, O'Flaherty has also held right-handed opponents to a sub-.700 OPS four times in the past five seasons. However, news broke in late May that the 28-year-old would require Tommy John surgery.
O'Flaherty's agents did well to secure him a contract only slightly below that of the one signed by Sean Burnett last winter (two years, $8MM) despite the fact that he isn't projected to return to the mound until July. His addition continues an offseason trend for Oakland GM Billy Beane and his staff, as they've loaded up on impact relievers. Oakland has also acquired Jim Johnson from the Orioles and Luke Gregerson from the Padres, adding to what already looked to be a solid group.
Despite his injury status, O'Flaherty was connected to a number of clubs this offseason, including the Braves and Nationals. The signing with Oakland, however, appears to be a bit out of the blue. The A's did lose a lefty in dealing Jerry Blevins to the Nationals, and they also receive the added benefit of having O'Flaherty around for the 2015 season at what will likely be a discount rate. That, of course, assumes a normal recovery for O'Flaherty, which isn't a given. The A's are taking on risk in this deal, and as a club with a low payroll, their margin for error is considerably lower than that of a team with deeper pockets.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the contract (via Twitter).