The Nationals and right-hander Matt Albers are in agreement on a new minor league contract, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). Albers was released by the Nationals earlier this week, likely in order to avoid paying the Article XX(B) free agent a $100K retention bonus. He’ll now return to the Nats on a minors pact that comes with a $1.15MM base, $600K worth of incentives and opt-out provisions on May 15 and June 1, per Cotillo. Albers is represented by SSG Baseball.
The 34-year-old Albers struggled through one of the worst seasons of his career with the White Sox in 2016, pitching to a dismal 6.31 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 48.6 percent ground-ball rate in 51 1/3 innings. Each of those figures represents a significant step back from the four-year window of success enjoyed by Albers from 2012-15. In that stretch, the former 23rd-rounder logged an excellent 2.32 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and an outstanding 59.2 percent ground-ball rate.
That run of strong performance could be a ticket back to the Majors for Albers, if he can get off to a strong start in Triple-A Syracuse and convince the Nationals or other clubs that his 2016 season was an aberration. Washington named Blake Treinen its closer earlier today, and he’ll be supported by right-handers Shawn Kelley, Koda Glover and Joe Blanton. From the left side, the Nationals will utilize a trio of Sammy Solis, Oliver Perez and hard-throwing Enny Romero early in the year.