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Mariners grant Andrew Albers release to play in Japan, M’s down to just one Canadian LHP from University of Kentucky

The Little Maple is picking up his roots.

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners
The first four photos tagged with “Andrew Albers” are all of James Paxton, good work Getty.
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Mariners have reportedly parted ways with one of the nicer surprises of the 2017 season.

Andrew Albers was acquired via a pure money exchange with the Atlanta Braves on August 12th of 2017, in the midst of Deadgar Weekend. He watched as Erasmo Ramirez, Ariel Miranda, and Yovani Gallardo started the following three games, all losses, before helping to halt a five game losing streak against Wade Miley and the Orioles. The “Little Maple” would go on to a strong rest of the season, in keeping with his AAA results but surprising given the sub-90 velocity and minimal whiff rate he maintained. He lived in the strike zone, posting a 50.6% Zone% more than 5% above league-average, yet managed to avoid being burned for the most part.

He had 88 mph fastballs that somehow didn’t get hit all that much, this year at least.

We were just as confused as you, Joey Rickard.

Albers is 32 and would not be eligible for free agency until 2024, when he would be 38. His age, lack of velocity, and mixed career results were likely why Albers was considered around 7th or 8th on the team’s starting pitching depth chart. As such, it’s unsurprising Albers, a career minor leaguer who would only be eligible for somewhere between ~$3-7k monthly in salary while in Tacoma, and league-minimum rates in the majors, would desire a chance at guaranteed money overseas. It is somewhat surprising that Seattle would grant Albers’ request, considering his potential value for a team with major concerns about pitching depth.

This is a very player-friendly move, which perhaps helps build on Seattle’s reputation around the league as an organization willing to incorporate the desires of players. It also inarguably harms Seattle’s pitching depth to a greater degree than the similar move to allow Seth Frankoff to pursue a role in the KBO a few weeks ago, or Arquimedes Caminero’s move to the NPB last year. Best of luck to Albers in Japan, and, if I were to guess, keep your eyes on the waiver wire.

Seattle’s 40-man roster now sits at 38.