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Athletics sign Eric O'Flaherty to 2-year, $7 million contract

The left-hander, who is expected back in July, heads to the Athletics.

Kevin C. Cox

The Oakland Athletics have signed left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty to a two-year, $7 million contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of O'Flaherty, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, is expected to return in July.

O'Flaherty, who turns 29 in early February, drew significant interest from the Nationals, Braves and Orioles before signing with the Athletics, according to reports. Atlanta seemed optimistic about signing him, but talks recently collapsed, leading the left-hander to sign with the A's.

O'Flaherty was 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA in 19 relief appearances with the Braves in 2013 before tearing his UCL in May and having Tommy John surgery. He was dominant in the two previous years, notching a 0.98 ERA in 78 appearances in 2011, and a 1.73 ERA in 64 appearances in 2012. In eight major league seasons, O'Flaherty has a lifetime 20-9 record and 2.85 ERA in 373 appearances.

The A's have been busy re-building their bullpen this winter, adding Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson while trading Jerry Blevins and losing Grant Balfour in free agency. O'Flaherty will join Sean Doolittle and Fernando Abad as left-handed options in Oakland's bullpen.

With O'Flaherty joining J.P. Howell, Scott Downs, Matt Thornton and Boone Logan as left-handers to sign multi-year deals this winter, only a handful of lefty relievers remain on the board. Teams looking for help in that area will have to turn to players like Mike Gonzalez, Rich Hill, Oliver Perez or Tony Sipp if they are looking to make a move in free agency.