Andrew Albers, Blue Jays finally finalize minor league deal

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For the caliber of pitcher that Andrew Albers is, there certainly has been a lot of drama surrounding him over the past week. After a bit of an on-again, off-again courtship of the 29-year-old, the Toronto Blue Jays have finally put the drama behind both parties and officially announced a minor league deal with the lefty and invited him to Dunedin in February for spring training.

Two days ago, reports surfaced that the Blue Jays had signed Andrew Albers to a minor league deal for the 2015. However, those rumors proved to be a bit premature, as the Canadian lefty was still pondering whether to return to South Korea for another season with the Hanwha Eagles.

That first season in Korea was a bit rough, as the hitter friendly league lit into Albers, knocking him around for a 5.89 ERA, 18 home runs, and 11.9 hits per nine innings.  That likely made the decision to return to Major League Baseball on a minor league deal a bit easier, knowing that in order to attract a good suitor over here, he’d want to face hitters in comparable ballparks.

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That said, Albers has a favorable history on this side of the ocean. In 2013, his only year in the majors, he put together a 4.05 ERA and 3.96 FIP over 10 starts with the Twins. However, his peripheral stats took a hit at the game’s top level with just a 3.8 K/9 ratio and 6 home runs allowed over 60 innings of work. Despite giving up his share of home runs, Albers does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, putting up a 43.5% GB mark in 2013.

His work at Triple-A was quite a bit better though, posting a 11-5 record, a 2.86 ERA, and a 3.63 K/BB ratio as a member of the 2013 Rochester Red Wings before receiving his promotion to the big leagues. Over the course of his minor and independent league play, Albers owns a lifetime 3.54 ERA with a 34-23 record, and a 3.71 K/BB ratio over 547 innings of work.

In a lot of ways, the signing of Andrew Albers reminds me of the 2014 pick-up of Liam Hendriks. Another former Twins pitcher with low strike-out rates, Hendriks proved to be a solid pick-up for depth purposes and made a few starts for the Blue Jays last season. Like Hendriks, Albers doesn’t feature a strong fastball, clocking in with an average speed of 86.6 MPH according to FanGraphs. However, he gets good separation from it, throwing his change-up 67.7 and his slider at 78.9.

Both pitchers will likely start on that path again in 2015, with Hendriks acquired in October from the Royals. Given his lack of overpowering stuff, it would be tough to imagine Albers breaking camp with a spot in the Blue Jays bullpen, especially given the presence of Kyle Drabek and Todd Redmond, both of which profile as long-men in the pen and both of whom are out of options.

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