As the off-season moves along for the Atlanta Braves, one of the few remaining question marks has been the status of veteran relief pitcher Eric O’Flaherty. Many believed that O’Flaherty would almost certainly stick around in Atlanta for next season, but as a result of his Tommy John surgery last July, his timeline of availability is still up in the air, making things difficult to project from a contract perspective.
Unfortunately, we have some clarity on the situation, in the form of O’Flaherty signing a lucrative contract elsewhere.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 22, 2014
As first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the 28-year-old lefty (who will be 29 when Spring Training begins) received a 2-year offer from the A’s, and that was apparently the impetus behind his decision to move on. David O’Brien of the AJC reports that the Braves simply weren’t willing to go the extra year:
O’Flaherty said teams were going to have to beat #Braves by quite a bit with offers, and he wouldn’t have gone anywhere else on 1-yr deal.
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) January 22, 2014
This isn’t a surprise, especially given the fact that O’Flaherty won’t be ready until midseason, but it’s also hard to come down on EOF for taking the second year of guaranteed money. He has been a God-send since arriving as a waiver claim (!!!) before the 2009 season, and in five years, he has accumulated a 1.99 ERA over nearly 250 innings of action. The 2011 campaign will be the one that most remember O’Flaherty for in Atlanta, as he put up a herculean 0.98 ERA over 73.2 innings, and with that type of upside, the injury concern was the only thing keeping him from a much larger deal.
Congratulations to O’Flaherty on the big-time money, and the Braves, while virtually set in the bullpen, could now be on the prowl for some left-handed help on the back-end.