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Eric O’Flaherty Rumors
AUGUST 7: Righty Dawrin Frias will head to Oakland to complete the deal, the A’s announced. The 23-year-old has been hit hard at the Class A level this year, while also showing significant control problems.
AUGUST 4: 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.
Recent Mets trade acquisition Yoenis Cespedes says that he likes the idea of staying in Queens for more than just the rest of this year, as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports. Of course, the free agent-to-be also notes that matter “is something I can’t control.” Indeed, he is effectively precluded from re-signing with New York as a free agent because of the contractual requirement that the team release him at the end of the year. (An MLB rule provides that teams may not re-sign released players until after the start of the following regular season.)
More on the Mets:
- In that same piece, GM Sandy Alderson indicated that his team’s deadline acquisitions were not made with any particular hope that the new players would sign long-term. “We’ll deal with next season later,” Alderson said. “That’s not to be cavalier about our longer-term view, but … I don’t think there’s any grave concern about the fact that these players may not be here next year. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t want them to be here next year, but that’s something we’ll deal with over the course of the offseason.”
- While a late-year extension for Cespedes is theoretically possible, it doesn’t seem terribly likely, as Marc Carig of Newsday also explains. New York has been quite cautious in handing out massive, multi-year deals, and Cespedes has positioned himself nicely for the upcoming free agent market. Sources tell Carig that they expect his representatives to seek a deal in the $120MM to $150MM range. There is precedent for that kind of cash, of course, though Cespedes will have to contend with the presence of Justin Upton and Jason Heyward alongside him on the market. Shin-soo Choo landed a $130MM deal back in 2013, while Josh Hamilton got $125MM the year prior.
- Before acquiring Eric O’Flaherty from the A’s, the Mets staff chatted about him with recent teammate Tyler Clippard, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. Clippard, of course, was also just traded from Oakland to New York, and told the media that he saw O’Flaherty (a recent Tommy John patient) rounding into form over the last few weeks. With the move, Clippard, a long-time Nationals reliever, and O’Flaherty, once a staple of the Braves pen, have now congregated with the division-rival Mets.
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco explained that the club added O’Flaherty because it wanted a weapon against opposing left-handed hitters, also via Rubin. “We feel like a lefty reliever was something that we could use — a guy that was more of a strict left-on-left guy,” Ricco explained. “And that’s what Eric really is. So we had our eye on a number of different options and this one came together pretty quickly today. It gave us an opportunity to get a veteran left-on-left guy.”
- Third baseman David Wright is ramping up baseball activities and may be nearing a rehab assignment, as Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes. Wright earned rave reviews for his workout at Citi Field yesterday, and indicated that he’s currently able to focus more on getting ready to play than worrying about his back. “It’s been a long process and I like the fact we’re finally talking about baseball and not rehab and doctors,’’ Wright said. “You put in all this work to finally get to the point where you are now. For two months you are having trouble standing for a while or walking. To be able now to go through a normal pregame routine, that makes you feel good about the process. You can see the finish line. It feels good.’’
The Athletics have announced that they’ve designated lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty for assignment. The move clears space on the Athletics’ active roster for righty and recent trade acquisition Aaron Brooks, who has been promoted from Nashville to start tonight.
The 30-year-old O’Flaherty has struggled this season, posting a 5.91 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9 in 21 1/3 innings while dealing with shoulder trouble. He’s also dealt with elbow and back issues in recent years. The A’s signed O’Flaherty to a two-year, $7MM contract before the 2014 season, and his rather expensive $5.5MM 2015 salary and uneven performance likely ensure he won’t be claimed.
The 33-year-old Francis appeared in nine games for the A’s (all relief appearances) and yielded nine runs in 13 1/3 total innings with a 10-to-3 K/BB ratio. The longtime Rockies hurler began the year with the Reds but was claimed off waivers by Oakland back in May. Once a mainstay in Colorado’s rotation, Francis has seen his stock drop since his peak years in 2006-07. The former No. 9 overall pick in the draft has a career 4.95 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate in 1267 1/3 innings.
O’Flaherty will be making his first appearance on Oakland’s active roster after signing a two-year, $7MM contract with the A’s this offseason. The former Brave underwent Tommy John surgery last year and has been on the shelf all season as he recovers. When healthy, O’Flaherty was one of the National League’s best setup men, posting a 1.99 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 249 1/3 innings from 2009-13. He’s lethal against opposing lefties and has typically been solid against right-handed hitters as well, so he will make a nice addition to Oakland’s relief corps.
The Athletics have continued to adapt to changes in the market and the analysis of the game since the much-hyped Moneyball era, writes MLB.com’s Mike Bauman. Getting on base is still a key, says Bauman, but this year’s club is winning with success on the bases and in the field. Manager Bob Melvin explained: “A guy like Josh Reddick, even when he’s not swinging the bat well, can play because he runs the bases well and he plays good defense. There’s value to all different variables, and we do value all of them.”
- Of course, the most recent notable shift has been GM Billy Beane’s heavy investment in the bullpen, which continued with the Athletics‘ recent extension of Sean Doolittle. The club’s relief corps currently has a 2.71 collective ERA (fourth-best in the bigs), and could soon benefit from the return of Eric O’Flaherty. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the former Braves southpaw is nearing a rehab assignment and could be looking at an early June debut in Oakland. O’Flaherty was inked to a back-loaded, two-year, $7MM deal in the offseason.
- The Orioles may be holding their collective breath until tomorrow, when catcher Matt Wieters will pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews to receive an evaluation of his sore elbow, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Though Passan notes the possibility of a UCL tear, Wieters played today in the DH slot and manager Buck Showalter downplayed the seriousness of the issue in comments to reporters, including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (links to Twitter). Showalter said that the team simply hopes to learn more about the cause of the soreness, and hopes to have Wieters back behind the dish tomorrow.
- The Indians have struggled to nail down the back of the rotation in the early part of the season. After letting Aaron Harang go and seeing Carlos Carrasco struggle, says Zack Meisel of the Plain Dealer, the team will now give Josh Tomlin a chance to seize a regular spot. Manager Terry Francona explained that the decision-making out of camp was driven by roster limitations. “For what I think are the right reasons, we wanted to see Carlos pitch,” he said, noting that Tomlin suffered in some respects because he still had an option. “We tried to figure out a way to keep Aaron Harang. We had so many meetings about that. You want to keep depth, knowing that you’re going to need it.” Tomlin, a 29-year-old righty, was solid in his return to Cleveland tonight after missing most of 2013 to Tommy John rehab and then losing his arbitration case to the club. David Laurila of Fangraphs provided an interesting breakdown of Tomlin’s offerings and how he hopes to succeed in his return from surgery.
- Of course, the Indians also have a surging Trevor Bauer throwing at the Triple-A level. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes, the 23-year-old is among the top prospects in the game who are still waiting for their chance to shine at the major league level. For Bauer, who had 25 days of MLB service coming into the year, extended time in the minors would be needed to maintain an additional year of team control and avoid Super Two status. Rosenthal discusses the fact that several excellent youngsters seem ready for promotions that have not yet been forthcoming.
Happy birthday to long-time Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who turns 42 years old today. Varitek played all 1546 of his career Major League games in a Boston jersey, posting a .776 OPS and collecting two World Series rings along the way. Varitek retired prior to the 2012 season and, since September 2012, has been working as a special assistant to Sox GM Ben Cherington. Here's the latest out of Fenway Park…
- David Ross tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that his good friend and former teammate Brian McCann had an interest in joining the Red Sox as a free agent last winter. "Early on I did (think McCann would come to Boston). I knew he wanted to come here, a lot. I had just told him what it was like here and that interested him," Ross said. Once McCann said that the Yankees had made him a big offer, however, Ross stayed out of the recruiting process out of respect for letting McCann handle his own business, plus the fact that "the Red Sox weren’t even close to what he got, so it really was a no-brainer."
- Also from Bradford's piece, he reports that the Red Sox had interest in Eric O'Flaherty last offseason. O'Flaherty underwent Tommy John surgery last May and isn't expected to pitch until midseason, but the veteran southpaw still drew interest from several teams last winter before signing a two-year, $7MM deal with the Athletics.
- Several Red Sox players contacted the players' union about their displeasure that players who had been suspended for PED use last season (namely, Jhonny Peralta) were eligible to play in the postseason, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Players on other teams voiced similar concerns, and the revised joint drug agreement states that players who have been hit with a PED suspension during a season aren't allowed to participate in that same season's playoffs.
- While John Lackey resurrected his career in 2013 and has pitched well in two 2014 starts, it may be premature for the Red Sox to explore an extension for the right-hander, Chris Villani of the Boston Herald opines. Lackey is under contract in 2015 for a league minimum salary (a condition of his contract after undergoing Tommy John surgery) and since Boston has a number of good young pitchers in the minor league pipeline, Villani believes the Sox can afford to wait to see if Lackey is truly back to form before considering another contract.
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).
Jon Rauch is close to signing with a team, MLBTR's Zach Links reports (Twitter link). The 35-year-old posted a 7.56 ERA in 16 2/3 IP with the Marlins last season and also made 10 appearances for the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate after signing a minor league contract with the O's in June. Despite his outlier of a 2013 season, Rauch has been a solid right-handed bullpen arm for much of his career, posting a 3.65 ERA, 2.79 K/BB and 7.2 K/9 over 549 2/3 IP from 2004-2012.
Here's some more news as we wrap up a busy Wednesday around baseball…
- The Braves only offered Eric O'Flaherty a one-year contract to remain with the team, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (via Twitter). Though O'Flaherty underwent Tommy John surgery last May and will miss at least part of the 2014 season, he still scored a two-year, $7MM deal from the A's earlier today.
- Yuniesky Betancourt will decide on his new club within the week, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Betancourt was drawing interest from several teams, potentially even as a starter.
- Also from Cotillo, there is "strong interest" in right-hander Todd Coffey. At least nine of the 14 teams who attended Coffey's throwing session last week want to see his second session. Coffey is looking to return to action after missing all of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- Much of the Indians' success at the plate last season was due to their lineup flexibility and use of bench players, a trait that MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince believes could be somewhat difficult to duplicate in 2014, though Carlos Santana's proposed attempt to play third base would be a great help in that department.
- The Twins didn't have any interest in Grady Sizemore this winter, though the club checked in on him last summer, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter).
- "Another issue with a physical does nothing to enhance the Orioles' reputation in the industry, which is taking a two-fisted beating this winter," Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes in regards to the news that Baltimore's agreement with Tyler Colvin has been delayed due to a problem with the outfielder's physical. Kubatko wonders if the O's could be trying to get Colvin to sign a minor league contract instead of a Major League deal, as the club did last offseason when it wasn't satisifed with Jair Jurrjens' physical.
- The Phillies liked Masahiro Tanaka and engaged in "cursory negotiations" with his representatives, but GM Ruben Amaro told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the team wasn't prepared to go beyond five years to sign the Japanese righty. The Phillies seem likely to go into 2014 with their current pitching options, as they only would've exceeded their payroll limitations for "an exception" like Tanaka.
In less than two years, Yu Darvish's contract went from a big risk for the Rangers to a major bargain, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett writes. Between Darvish's posting fee and six-year contract (plus bonuses), Durrett calculates that Darvish will cost Texas roughly $111MM over the six years, a deal that looks very reasonable compared to the massive contracts signed by other ace pitchers around baseball since the 2010-11 offseason. Masahiro Tanaka, for instance, is set to earn twice as much as Darvish over the next four seasons though most scouts concur that Darvish is the better pitcher.
Here's some more from around the AL West…
- Athletics manager Bob Melvin and assistant GM David Forst discussed the club's signing of Eric O'Flaherty in a conference call with reporters, including Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. Forst said the A's were satisfied that O'Flaherty was making good progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery in May 2013. The reliever expressed similar confidence to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he is "100 percent certain" he'll be able to pitch in the first half of the season, possibly as early as May.
- The Angels aren't looking for relievers "with closer experience," GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). The Halos seem set with Ernesto Frieri returning as closer and Joe Smith serving as a setup man.
- In a mailbag piece, MLB.com's Greg Johns addresses such topics as why the Mariners went after Corey Hart and Logan Morrison instead of re-signing a known quantity in Kendrys Morales, as well as Seattle's chances of pursuing some of the big names remaining on free agent market.
- From earlier today, the Angels agreed to sign Ian Stewart to a minor league deal, while the Mariners agreed to bring Endy Chavez back on a minor league contract.
Earlier this morning, I asked MLBTR readers about the Braves' upcoming arb hearings and how each situation would pan out (player wins, team wins, or agreement is reached prior to hearing). To this point, MLBTR readers think that Craig Kimbrel (63%) and Freddie Freeman (57%) will win their hearings, while about 46 percent think the Braves will win a hearing against Jason Heyward. Here's more on the Braves and the rest of the NL East…
- The Braves have not had any recent discussions with lefty Eric O'Flaherty, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). The Braves were once expected to re-sign their longtime setup man, who underwent Tommy John surgery early last season, but recent reports suggest he could be headed elsewhere.
- As things stand, Atlanta GM Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez both stand to enter the season on expiring contracts, notes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Brien writes a lengthy breakdown of the merits of each key organizational figure.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that the Mets' stance on Stephen Drew hasn't changed; they still like Drew but aren't hot on his trail and are content to wait in order to see if his price drops. Agent Scott Boras has said that he and Drew can wait as well, Martino reminds.
- New York is still looking for bullpen help, and the team is "somewhat" interested in Mitchell Boggs, a source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link).
- The Phillies made a notable minor league signing today, bringing back one-time club cornerstone Bobby Abreu. "The purpose of this signing is to see if he has anything left," said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. "We've seen him in [Venezuela]. He's in shape and swinging the bat well, and he's motivated to play. If he performs, great. If he doesn't, we have no obligation to keep him. But he will be given every opportunity to make [the] club." (Links to Twitter.) As Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com argues, players like Abreu and fellow minor league signee Chad Gaudin fill important depth roles at minimal cost.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.