WASHINGTON — Reliever Matt Albers parlayed a stellar season out of the Washington Nationals’ bullpen into a two-year pact with the Milwaukee Brewers, finalized with MLB on Tuesday.
The deal is widely reported to be worth $5 million.
Albers signed with the Nats almost exactly one year ago and proved to be a steal. He finished with the third-lowest ERA in the National League (1.62) and a sparkling 7-2 record in 63 games.
Despite his success, Albers had to wait a long time in free agency, which did not materialize for relievers as it has in recent seasons.
Perhaps teams wondered if his ERA (nearly 2.5 points lower than his career average) was a fluke, or if his career-high seven wins could be duplicated. The Brewers are bullish that it was a sign of things to come, signing him with extra incentives for pitching between 30 and 65 games in a season.
“Matt’s a guy who’s always had a really good arm,” Brewers general manager David Stearns told the media. “He battled some injury issues a few years ago, but he has pitched healthy now the past couple of years and made some very meaningful adjustments last year in Washington. We see no reason it can’t carry forward.”
Last weekend, at the Brewers’ Fan Fest, owner Mark Attanasio revealed something that has become obvious in recent weeks: the Brewers are ready to compete in 2018.
“We decided winning in 2018 was as important as to win in 2020,” Attanasio told fans and reporters. “If you looked at what a typical rebuilding arc would be, 2020 would be a typical year that you thought everything would come together.”
Before signing Albers, the Brew Crew dealt for Christian Yelich and signed free agent Lorenzo Cain, building a dominant outfield.
Don’t look now, but the Brewers could be in line to sign one of the top free agent pitchers left as well, with Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta still available.
With all of this big news, Albers is a relatively small signing. But if he performs as he did last year in Washington, this could be one of the under-the-radar top signings of the offseason.