6:18pm: Albers tweets that he’s joining the NPB’s Orix Buffaloes.
The 32-year-old Albers, a client of True Gravity Sports, is no stranger to playing overseas after spending the 2014 season playing for the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. However, this would mark the first action for Albers in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Albers remained on the Mariners’ 40-man roster to this point in the offseason after a strong 41-inning showing in Seattle. The Canadian-born southpaw turned in a 3.51 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 33.6 percent ground-ball rate over the life of six starts and three relief appearances. Albers also turned in a terrific 2.61 ERA in 120 2/3 innings with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate before being traded over to the Mariners in early August.
The trip to Japan will mark another chapter in what has been a fascinating professional career for Albers. A 10th-round pick of the Padres back in 2008, Albers scarcely pitched in the San Diego organization before finding himself in independent ball for the 2010 campaign. He parlayed a brilliant showing in the Canadian-American Association into a minor league deal with the Twins and rose through their ranks to make his big league debut in 2013.
Improbably, Albers tossed 8 1/3 shutout innings in his MLB debut and followed that up with a complete-game shutout in his second career start. He went to Korea the following year and has been up and down in the Majors since. Albers averages in the 86-87 mph range on his heater and has never been much of a strikeout arm, but his excellent control and knack for inducing weak contact have served him well throughout his time as a pro.
[Related: Seattle Mariners depth chart]
For the Mariners, the loss of Albers will thin out their rotation depth to some extent, though that’s one area of need that the team is seeking to add anyhow — especially in the wake of missing out on Shohei Ohtani. At present, the Mariners will turn to James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake and Erasmo Ramirez in the top four spots of the rotation, though the 40-man roster contains several other options. Lefties Ariel Miranda, Marco Gonzales and Sam Moll (whom the Mariners are converting to a starter) will join righties Max Povse, Andrew Moore, Chase De Jong and Robert Whalen in competing for starts.