Chicago White Sox middle reliever Matt Albers has signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract to return to the team for the 2016 season, according to Dayn Perry of CBS Sports. According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal (via Perry), the deal also includes a $3 million team option for 2017.
The right-hander, who turned 33 years old Wednesday, had a 1.21 ERA with 28 strikeouts and just nine walks in 37.1 innings pitched last season.
Next season will be the 11th for Albers, who sports an ERA+ of 102 through 552.2 career innings, per Baseball-Reference.com. His lone year in Chicago was arguably his best, though he pitched fewer innings than in other seasons.
According to Perry, Albers will slide into the setup role behind closer David Robertson. Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago likes the move:
Given how unpredictable bullpens are, #WhiteSox now have some room for error by bringing back Matt Albers. Have 5 solid RHPs and 2 LHPs.— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) January 21, 2016
Matt Albers signing also gives #WhiteSox time to see what works for Tommy Kahnle w/o need of instant outs. Good club option for '17, too.— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) January 21, 2016
Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish said a move by the New York Mets helped bring Albers back to town: "Albers was a hot commodity on the free-agent market this winter, drawing strong interest from many clubs, including the Mets. New York's recent signing of Antonio Bastardo to a two-year deal likely took them out of the running for bullpen help, leading Albers to go back to Chicago for another season."
Chicago finished with its third straight losing season in 2015, while the bullpen was 15th in MLB with a 3.67 ERA and 24th with a .255 batting average against.
This might not be the flashiest signing of the MLB offseason, but if Albers can replicate 2015 and add another 30 to 35 innings, he should be able to help Chicago improve those numbers.