Royals right-hander Joakim Soria and Braves lefty Eric O’Flaherty have cleared revocable trade waivers, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. As such, either player is free to be traded to any other club.
That Soria, 32, went unclaimed is hardly a surprise considering the fact that he’s just four and a half months into a substantial three-year, $25MM contract signed as a free agent this offseason. Soria, though, has hardly performed like a $25MM pitcher, pitching to a pedestrian 4.03 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 52.9 percent ground-ball rate. While the strikeouts and grounders are impressive, Soria has demonstrated the worst control of any healthy season he’s had in his career this year and is allowing hard contact at a career-high rate of 29.3 percent, per Fangraphs. The frequency with which opponents are barreling up his offerings has led to a career worst 1.4 HR/9 rate.
Soria is earning $7MM this season in the first year of the slightly backloaded deal, meaning he still has $19.72MM remaining on his pact from now through the end of the 2018 season (including the buyout of a 2019 option). While his performance to date hasn’t been encouraging, the Royals may be able to find a taker if they’re willing to eat some of that contract, though they could also simply hope for a better performance in 2017. Soria is, after all, still missing bats and keeping the ball on the ground, as previously mentioned, and his 92.8 mph average heater is actually the best of his career.
The 31-year-old O’Flaherty is more affordable than Soria, with a $1.75MM base salary on the minor league deal he signed this winter, but his performance has been considerably worse. His ERA to date sits at a decidedly unappealing mark of 6.91, and while his 54 percent ground-ball rate is promising, his 22-to-11 K/BB ratio (plus two hit batters and three wild pitches) is less inspiring. While some might hope that O’Flaherty could at least be relied upon as a lefty specialist, he’s allowed same-handed opponents to bat .284/.329/.439 against him. The Braves were able to find a taker for Erick Aybar, so perhaps there’s hope that he could be moved, but even Aybar had a solid three or four weeks of production under his belt prior to being flipped (in a trade that saw the Braves take some salary back in the form of Mike Aviles). O’Flaherty has surrendered six earned runs in his past six innings, issuing more walks (six) than strikeouts recorded (five) in that time.