According to Ken Rosenthal, the Atlanta Braves have acquired lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash. In ten appearances this month, he threw 9.1 innings, allowing eight runs(three earned) on 15 hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts. O’Flaherty wasn’t going to make the Pirates out of Spring Training, so this was likely done out of goodwill just to find him a Major League job. The “cash” return is likely something very minimal. Deals have been done for as little as $1 in some of these cases, where the team is just helping a player they don’t have a Major League spot for, go to a better situation. As pointed out by Tim Williams, this is probably a good sign for Cory Luebke sticking around after Tuesday.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 27, 2016
UPDATE 11:40 AM: Analysis from Tim Williams…
As John mentioned, this deal is probably a move to get a spot in the majors for O’Flaherty. It signals that he wasn’t in the plans for the Pirates for their Opening Day roster. They did have a $100,000 retention bonus that they could have paid on Tuesday to keep him in the organization, but typically teams don’t use that if it ends up blocking a veteran guy from a Major League job elsewhere.
Cory Luebke also probably factored in to this situation. He and Kyle Lobstein will be up for the final bullpen spot as the second lefty, if the Pirates go that route. Lobstein is on the 40-man roster, and Luebke would have to be added to the 40-man on Tuesday, in order to retain him. This trade signals that the Pirates will be protecting Luebke, and that would have made it more unlikely that O’Flaherty (not on the 40-man) would have factored in the plans this year.
I’ll have more from Bradenton on this situation later.