Posted on January 29, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
With spring training fast approaching, the Milwaukee Brewers are staying busy. Last week, the Brew Crew added two marquee outfielders to their roster. On Monday, they added to their bullpen. The Brewers have reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with relief pitcher Matt Albers. According to reports, Albers will make $2.5 million each of the next two seasons with a chance to make an additional $1 million each season if he reaches 35 appearances.
Just a year ago, the now 35-year old Albers appeared to be reaching the end of his career. Following a dismal 2016 campaign with the White Sox in which he posted a 6.31 ERA, Albers had to settle for a minor league deal with the Nationals. However, he managed to make the most out it.
Albers was called up a week into the season and went on to make 63 appearances for the Nationals. Albers went 7-2 with a 1.62 ERA, becoming one of Washington’s most important relievers. He even recorded the first two saves of his career. Despite the slow free agent market this winter, Albers was able to turn one great season into a two-year commitment from Milwaukee, as the Brewers hope he can become an important part of their bullpen this season.
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The Brewers had one of the better bullpens in the National League last year. But after losing a couple key components, they will have to rebuild part of that bullpen this season. Albers and fellow free agent signing Boone Logan figure to be an important part of that. They will also provide a veteran presence in a relatively young bullpen.
Corey Knebel will anchor Milwaukee’s bullpen as the closer. He posted a 1.78 ERA and saved 39 games in 2017 after taking over the closer’s job in May. However, the 26-year old still has to prove he can provide year-to-year consistency, especially if he’s going to pitch in high-leverage situations.
Milwaukee’s contingent of setup men will be highlighted by Jeremy Jeffress, Jacob Barnes, and Josh Hader. Jeffress and Barnes were both outstanding in 2016 but posted more modest numbers last season. The Brewers have high hopes for both, but there’s no guarantee either will be a lockdown 8th inning setup man in front of Knebel. Hader, meanwhile, possesses great upside and had an impressive rookie campaign last year. But the 23-year old still lacks experience and may or may not be ready to handle a prominent bullpen role.
The Brewers definitely have talent in the back end of their bullpen. But there’s no guarantee the pitchers they expect to fill prominent roles all rise to the occasion. That will make it all the more important for veterans like Albers and Logan to provide consistency in Milwaukee’s bullpen. There are also questions about Milwaukee’s rotation, making bullpen depth all the more important for the Brewers in 2018.
At first glance, the signing of Albers doesn’t move the needle much for Milwaukee. At his age, it seems unlikely he’ll be able to replicate the numbers he put up last year. However, considering his numbers from last year, the Brewers signed Albers at a bargain price. More importantly, the Brewers needed more depth and experience in their bullpen, and that’s what they’re getting with Albers.