Today the A's signed left handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty from the Atlanta Braves to a two year, $7 million deal. At first I was skeptical of this signing for two reasons. The first reason was that well, since I don't study every guy in every National League bullpen I didn't really know who he was and the second was because he will not be available until mid-season due to having had Tommy John Surgery in May 2013.
Upon further review I learned that this signing could indeed be yet another one of Billy Beane's genius moves! The 28-year old lefty has been one of the best relievers in the league in the past few years, until being sidelined with Tommy John Surgery last season. He has a career ERA of 2.85 and in 2011 his ERA was .98. His stuff his just nasty against left handed batters. Over the last three years he posted a 1.45 ERA, 124 strikeouts vs. only 45 walks and a .419 OPS against lefties.
Taking on a guy for $3.5 million a year just off of Tommy John Surgery does sound a little crazy at first but with players getting salaries of over $100 million this is a great move for a small market team like the A's. It's a gamble for sure but it just might end up being a HUGE payoff and the A's definitely needed a lefty specialist to replace Jerry Blevins, who was traded to the Washington Nationals this off-season. I love Blevins - personality, good at his job, all around sweetheart - but I must say if O'Flaherty comes off the disabled list and is as good or possibly better than before than he is an upgrade from Blevins.
Billy is sticking with his pattern of signing players with high ceiling talent but some health issues. Think about guys like Coco Crisp, Bartolo Colon and Jed Lowrie all of whom have helped the A's to win back to back American League West Titles! With a limited budget you have to take gambles once in a while and the A's have shown that it pays off.