If you can't beat him, sign him? Eric O'Flaherty, 28, is (3-1) against Washington in his career, with a 1.48 ERA, seven walks (2.08 BB/9) and 21 Ks (6.23 K/9) in 30 1/3 career innings pitched opposite the Nationals. In an article last week on the Nats' rumored interest in the left-handed free agent who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore wrote that he'd, "...steamrolled the Nationals, allowing them to hit .181 against him over his career," while holding the Nats' hitters to just one unearned run in the last three seasons and 20 IP against the Nationals while pitching out of the Atlanta Braves' bullpen.
O'Flaherty's a free agent now, and expected, as the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore noted, to return to the mound in early-to-mid-May this season. "The Nationals have not yet given him an offer, but they have maintained dialogue with O’Flaherty," Kilgore wrote, but they were just one of six teams that had shown interest.
In a report from the Winter Meetings tonight, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal is upgrading the status of the Nats' pursuit of the left-handed specialist to a "strong run":
Mr. Rosenthal's not the only one who has noted in recent days that the Nationals' next order of business is bolstering their bullpen after adding to the rotation and bench by trading for right-handed starter Doug Fister last week and signing free agent outfielder Nate McLouth on Friday:
Now that #Nationals have reeled in Fister & McLouth, seem to be turning attention to backup C & LH relief. A name to watch: Eric O'flaherty— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 7, 2013
#nats looking for a lefty reliever. boone logan, ollie perez, j.p. howell among better ones available— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 8, 2013
Nats in talks with Eric O'Flaherty, per source. Here's background on their interest, O'Flaherty's health from Friday. http://t.co/2cJL1wSYSj— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) December 9, 2013
Source: #Nats "very interested" in left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty, who has spent last five seasons with Braves.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) December 9, 2013
The Nationals have been tied to each of the relievers in reports this winter. While Howell was a target last year, he eventually signed with the LA Dodgers.
Los Angeles' GM Ned Colletti told reporters, including TrueBlueLA's Eric Stephen, this weekend that the Dodgers continue to talk to Howell about returning to LA. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters last week that though there were in-house options (like Xavier Cedeno and possibly 25-year-old prospect Sammy Solis, though Rizzo didn't mention any by name), the bullpen was one area the team was still looking to improve this winter.
Can the Nationals get a solid left-handed reliever like O'Flaherty at a discount coming off Tommy John? He might not start the season on time, but provided he's able to return to his previous form, he would provide the Nats with what they've openly stated they are after this winter...
Will Rizzo find the lefty he's after at the Winter Meetings? If they sign O'Flaherty, do they have to get another lefty as well since the reliever might not be available for the first month and maybe more?
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