9:42am: Albers does not currently have an agreement in place with an MLB club, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports (Twitter link). Rather, it’s simply expected that he will sign a two-year deal with someone within the next week. Darren Wolfson of KSTP adds in a tweet of his own that the Twins have not reached out to Albers.
8:17am: Free agent reliever Matt Albers is expected to sign next week, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. He’s expected to receive a two-year deal.
Albers has a wide variety of suitors given his recent performance with the Nationals. As Crasnick notes (and as MLBTR mentioned here), Albers had a 1.62 ERA in Washington this past season. While his .203 BABIP might seem to suggest that luck had something to do with it, it’s worth noting that the righty had the fourth-highest soft contact rate (30.9%) among MLB relievers with at least 50 innings pitched; those batted balls obviously go for outs a high percentage of the time. His 22.2% hard contact rate was also the third-best among bullpen arms, which paints a picture of a rare and valuable skill set. Albers posted some attractive peripheral stats too, including a 27% strikeout rate that was more than double his 2016 figure with the White Sox. He also managed a respectable 51% ground ball rate; success in that area long been his signature success as a major-leaguer.
Any team would likely benefit from adding Albers to their bullpen. A two-year contract, however, would mean that some team is placing a lot of faith in a player who has been inconsistent throughout the course of his career. Prior to 2017 Albers had a career 4.34 ERA to go with a 6.23 ERA K/9 and 3.80 BB/9. Perhaps some teams have found a reason to believe that his newfound success is sustainable over the long term.
The Astros originally selected Albers in the 23rd round of the 2001 draft. He made his major league debut with Houston in 2007, and pitched for the Orioles, Indians, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and White Sox before finding his way to the Nationals on a minor league deal this past March.