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Red Sox ‘getting closer’ to a deal with reliever Matt Albers

12.14.10 at 7:46 pm ET
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The Red Sox appear to be close to signing free agent reliever Matt Albers. (AP)

According to Peter Gammons of NESN and the MLB Network, the Red Sox have signed free agent reliever Matt Albers. A source familiar with the negotiations said that a deal is “not done,” but that it is “getting closer.”

The 27-year-old (he turns 28 in January), who was non-tendered by the Orioles earlier this month, was 5-3 with a 4.52 ERA in 62 games for the Orioles in 2010, striking out 49 and walking 34 in 75 2/3 innings. He has spent parts of the last five seasons in the majors, mostly as a reliever, forging a 15-25 record and 5.11 ERA. In 2008, after he was traded from the Astros to the Orioles as part of the package for Miguel Tejada, Albers had a 3.49 ERA in 49 innings, but with a 26-to-22 strikeout-to-walk rate.

Albers has a low-90s fastball that he mixes with a curve. While his career strikeout numbers (5.8 per nine innings) are fairly unimpressive, he gets a significant number of groundballs, making him an intriguing buy-low possibility on a Sox relief corps that is lacking a groundball-inducing option. Albers has a career 1.05 groundball-to-flyball rate, roughly 33 percent better than league average. In 2010, that jumped to a 1.33 groundball-to-flyball ratio, the sixth-highest mark in the AL (min. 50 innings).

News of the Sox’ interest in Albers was first reported by the Boston Globe.

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