Free-agent left-hander Eric O’Flaherty has narrowed his list of possible teams down to four and is “should sign a deal by the weekend,” reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). The MVP Sports client recently threw for more than 15 Major League clubs.
O’Flaherty, who turned 31 on Friday, struggled through the worst season of his career in 2015, yielding 27 earned runs in 30 innings in his first full season back from 2013 Tommy John surgery. Those ugly results notwithstanding, O’Flaherty has an excellent track record as a setup man, having served as one of the Braves’ most reliable bullpen arms from 2009-13 before his injury. In that stretch, the left-hander turned in a 1.99 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 58.3 percent ground-ball rate across 249 1/3 innings. O’Flaherty was more than a lefty specialist during his Atlanta peak, as well, holding right-handers to a .247/.334/.335 batting line while stifling lefties (.188/.243/.255).
While O’Flaherty’s 2015 ERA is clearly discouraging, it should also be noted that the velocity on his sinker increased over the course of the season, and his 58.3 percent ground-ball rate was an exact match with his ground-ball rate from his best years with the Braves. Clearly, O’Flaherty will have to re-establish his once-solid control if he is to recreate the success that he once enjoyed, though. The 18 walks he issued in 2015 were just three shy of the single-season high he logged in that aforementioned stretch of five years.