The Astros have brought back another familiar face to join Chad Qualls in the bullpen. The team has announced that Sugar Land native Matt Albers has been signed to 1-year deal that includes an option for the 2015 season.
Albers, who turns 31 next month, is coming off a second straight outstanding season. Traded from Boston to Arizona in the middle of 2012, Albers put together a breakout campaign. While pitching his home games in a couple of hitter friendly parks, Matt managed to post career bests in WHIP (1.127) and ERA (2.39). Perhaps the most impressive number posted by Albers that season was his ERA+ of 176.
Traded to Cleveland after the 2012 season, Matt followed up his career year with a solid effort for the Tribe. In 57 relief appearances Albers posted a 1.27 WHIP, a 3.83 xFIP, and had a career best 63.8% ground ball rate. The former Astro seems to have finally put it all together.
The Free Agent had been contacted by multiple clubs this winter but was happy to hear from his hometown team. The 6′ 1″, 225 pound right-hander told Brian McTaggart:
"As soon as I knew Houston was real involved, I knew this is where I wanted to be. I was real excited when they made me a good offer and I was ready to accept it."
The deal is worth a reported $2.45 million for 2014 with a $3 million team option for 2015 and a $200,000 buyout. Albers gives Bo Porter and the Astros another dependable option for the seventh or eighth inning of close ballgames — something that was lacking in 2013. It’s also rumored that the ‘Stros are still negotiating a reunion with former closer Jose Veras.
Matt Albers (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)