Any time a team signs a player that has been off with a serious injury there is clear risk involved. The deal the Oakland Athletics just signed with lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty however is about as good of a deal as you’ll see for such a player. Facts cannot be ignored and the fact is that O’Flaherty pitched a ton of innings and was out with elbow troubles that required Tommy John surgery. Does that really make this a bad deal though?
Sure there is risk there but only because there is no guarantee that O’Flaherty will produce in exactly the same way he was before going down early in 2013. There are other facts at play in addition to the fact that he was injured after all. First you have the clear fact that a vast majority of pitchers go through this same procedure and come out at least as good as they were before on the other side.
Also you have the good fortune of O’Flaherty having been absolutely dominant with the Atlanta Braves. He was one of the most dominant forces in the game out of the bullpen. That means at least in theory, if he did lose something on the way back he would still be one of the best bullpen options at worst. At best the A’s just grabbed a guy who will continue to be one of the game’s best bullpen pitchers for about $7M over two seasons.
One more bit of masterful news for the A’s is this. No single bullpen in MLB will be completely healthy about mid-summer this season. We all know how it goes when those reliable arms start to get a little bit tired and they really need to be spelled by someone else out of the ‘pen. How about O’Flaherty being available and fresh around the middle or end of July? Assuming he will be close to full health and production, what an amazing shot in the arm to the A’s ‘pen that will be.