Ryan Flaherty packed his car Thursday morning and began driving south. He planned to be in Baltimore to see friends, and then take the Auto Train to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Where Flaherty will be next month is a mystery.

“There’s always uncertainty in baseball,” Flaherty said by phone as he hit the road.

But this year is different for Flaherty, 31, a Portland native and Deering High grad who played the past six seasons for the Baltimore Orioles.

As a six-year veteran, Flaherty is a free agent for the first time.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “You wait and see. That’s part of it.”


He used to make February plans to be in Sarasota, Florida, to be at the Orioles’ spring training camp. Now, Flaherty awaits a call from his agent. He could be spending spring training in Florida or Arizona, depending on which team signs him.


“I guess, a little bit,” Flaherty said. “I just let my agent handle it.

“I talk to my agent once a week. I told him to just tell me when something is close. I don’t need to pay attention to rumors.”

Flaherty is hardly alone as a free agent. This offseason has been dulled by a lack of signings. Teams appear to be shying away from long-term contracts, while players appear to be waiting for the market to be established.

Yahoo.com’s Jeff Passan ranked the top 184 free agents (Flaherty came in at 179). Only 38 have signed.


Baltimore seems to be the best fit for Flaherty, a utility player capable of being nearly anywhere on the field. The Orioles only have four infielders on their 40-man roster right now.

But Baltimore began the offseason with 10 free agents (nine since catcher Welington Castillo signed with the White Sox). The Orioles have priorities other than Flaherty, especially with an uncertain starting rotation.

Baltimore also put All-Star third baseman Manny Machado on the trading block, which makes its outlook even more unclear.

Another factor affecting Flaherty is his skills. Not every team may be in the market for a utility player with a .215 career batting average who was limited to 23 games last season because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.

Baltimore remains a favorite to re-sign him. Manager Buck Showalter has always valued Flaherty’s flexibility, since he can play every infield position and both corner outfield spots.

Flaherty would also be an asset to a team looking for a veteran presence, position flexibility, clutch hitting (.261 career average with runners in scoring position) and relatively inexpensive (Flaherty made $1.8 million last year).


One team likely not interested is the Red Sox, even though Flaherty has a career .308 average at Fenway Park. Boston’s roster features plenty of left-handed hitting utility players – Brock Holt, Marco Hernandez and Tzu-Wei Lin.

While Flaherty missed time because of his shoulder, he did come back for the final six weeks of the season.

“The shoulder is fine,” he said. “I actually started throwing a lot earlier than I normally do.”

Flaherty has split time between Florida and Maine this offseason. In the past few weeks, he’s worked out at various facilities, including the field house at the University of Southern Maine, where his dad, Ed Flaherty, is entering his 33rd season as baseball coach.

Flaherty’s family and friends often came to Fenway when the Orioles were in town. Now, it’s not certain if Flaherty’s 2018 team will even play in Boston.

Who will sign him? Flaherty is waiting to find out.

“That’s all you can do,” he said.

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