Blue Jays ink Al Alburquerque to minor league deal

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Al Alburquerque
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Al Alburquerque /

According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed reliever Al Alburquerque to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

Al Alburquerque split time between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox last season posting a respectable 2.50 earned run average with 14 strikeouts in 21 appearances. In 7 major league seasons, the 31-year old reliever owns a career 17-8 record with a 3.16 earned run average, 44 holds, 10.7 SO/9 rate and a 5.1 WAR in 264 games.

The native of the Dominican Republic is best known for his time with the Detroit Tigers where he was a mainstay at the back of their bullpen for 5 years. In 2014, Alburquerque posted a .2,51 earned run average with 17 holds in 72 appearances for the Tigers.

The right-hander owns similar splits throughout his career with righties hitting .203 and lefties hitting .217 respectively versus him. Another positive note to the signing is Blue Jays won’t have to face Alburquerque next season, in 31 career plate appearances Jays hitters are batting just .071 with 13 strikeouts versus him.

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He features a three-pitch repertoire with a mid-90’s fastball and sinker offset by a slider that touches mid to high 80’s. Last season, Alburquerque had a 55.1% groundball rate which will play well in the homer-friendly confines of the Rogers Centre.

Alburquerque earned $1.1 million last season and surprisingly was unable to secure a major league contract. The reliever has pitched in high leverage situation coming into a game between the 7-9 inning on 226 occasions throughout his career and his coming off a respectable campaign in albeit limited innings.

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With the market for relief pitching so high, this is a good low-risk/high-reward signing for Ross Atkins and company. Alburquerque will have a legitimate shot at making the club and pitching in meaningful innings for the Jays next season while adding depth to an already deep Jays pen that enjoyed success in 2017.