According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Pirates and the Braves have a struck a trade. The Braves will be acquiring left-hander Eric O’Flaherty. O’Flaherty, who was considered as the front-runner for the Pirates second lefty spot in the bullpen. O’Flaherty this spring was putting up strong numbers. He pitched 9.1 innings and held an ERA of 2.89.
The move is an interesting one as the lefty returns to Atlanta where he had the strongest years of his career. In Atlanta, O’Flaherty pitched from 2009-2013, and in those years he threw to a tune of a 1.99 ERA. He also had a strong numbers in 7k/9 IP and a 2.5BB/9 IP ratios. However disaster struck mid way through 2013 when O’Flaherty received Tommy-John surgery. Since then he has not been the same including an ERA of over 8 last year between Oakland and the Mets.
For the Pirates, it seems to clear up some question about who the second lefty will be in the bullpen, but not necessarily. While Kyle Lobstein seems the most obvious choice with strong spring numbers, we could also see Cory Luebke. According to Jon Heyman, scouts have been very impressed with Luebke this spring. It has been
reported that he has been hitting 94 on the radar gun, with a solid low 80’s slider. Being that Luebke has an opt-out clause for the 29th, the Pirates may have just opened a spot for him. This could be their way of making sure that these “scouts” never get a chance at picking him up for their team. Lobstein projects more as a starter, although he has had success out of the bullpen in his career. Luebke, having two Tommy-John surgeries on his record, may project better as a bullpen arm this point in his career. The trade likely gives him and the Pirates a better shot at staying together. With Hughes possibly heading to the DL, the Pirates could utilize both Lobstein and Luebke at the beginning of the year.
In the trade, the Pirates are receiving cash back from Atlanta. That shows that the Pirates were looking to deal O’Flaherty just to clear a spot.