CHICAGO -- The White Sox announced a Minor League deal with right-handed hurler Matt Albers on Friday, two days after executive vice president Ken Williams praised the depth his team developed during this offseason and one week from their pitchers and catchers' report date.
Albers, who recently turned 32, has a chance to add to that depth in the bullpen with a non-roster invite to big league Spring Training also being extended. According to the Houston Chronicle, Albers will make $1.5 million if he reaches the Majors, and had interest from four other teams along with the White Sox after reports had him reaching 91 mph while throwing for teams in Houston on Tuesday.
That velocity isn't what will be most important for Albers in terms of his context with the White Sox. First off is his health, after Albers was limited to eight games and 10 innings in 2014 with the Astros due to shoulder issues. Second is his ability to get ground balls in U.S. Cellular Field, which is often hitter-friendly.
In 2012, Albers posted a 2.39 ERA over 63 games between the Red Sox and D-backs. He followed up that effort with a 3.14 ERA over 56 games with the Indians in 2013. Albers has a 3.52 ERA over seven career games at U.S. Cellular.
General manager Rick Hahn made the bullpen one of his priorities going into 2015, after the group finished with a 4.38 ERA that ranked second from the bottom in the American League in '14. David Robertson was added as closer, while Zach Duke and Dan Jennings become late-inning, left-handed options. Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam should be in the mix from last year, leaving pitchers such as Albers, Javy Guerra, Daniel Webb, Maikel Cleto and Eric Surkamp, to name a few, to battle for the final two spots.
Carlos Rodon and Francelis Montas, the team's No. 1 and No. 3 prospects, respectively, per MLB.com, also could compete for a season-opening bullpen spot. With Albers' addition and Tony Campana's ACL injury, the White Sox will have 64 players in camp at the outset of big league Spring Training.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.