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Brewers finalize 2-year deal with Albers

Catcher Susac designated for assignment to clear space on 40-man roster
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- After finalizing a two-year, $5 million contract for free-agent reliever Matt Albers on Tuesday, baseball's busiest general manager sounded like a man intent on adding more.

Brewers GM David Stearns left open that possibility after designating catcher Andrew Susac for assignment to clear 40-man roster space for Albers, Milwaukee's second Major League free-agent addition to the bullpen. The other, Boone Logan, signed a one-year contract in early January.

MILWAUKEE -- After finalizing a two-year, $5 million contract for free-agent reliever Matt Albers on Tuesday, baseball's busiest general manager sounded like a man intent on adding more.

Brewers GM David Stearns left open that possibility after designating catcher Andrew Susac for assignment to clear 40-man roster space for Albers, Milwaukee's second Major League free-agent addition to the bullpen. The other, Boone Logan, signed a one-year contract in early January.

Stearns, who also added veteran righty J.J. Hoover on a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league camp, said he "wouldn't close the door" on further relief adds.

"I think it's coming together nicely," Stearns said. "We know the increased emphasis that is placed on bullpens throughout the course of the year. We know we're going to run through a number of arms in the bullpen. Every team does, whether it's because of injuries or performance chances. So we need to create depth there. I think we're doing that. Albers comes with a little bit more of a track record, and we expect him to pitch meaningful innings for us."

Albers, 35, has already pitched in the Majors for seven teams over the past 12 seasons and has been getting better with age, compiling a 2.89 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP over the past six seasons. Following one of his worst seasons in 2016 with the White Sox, Albers enjoyed one of his best seasons in '17 with the Nationals, going 7-2 with a 1.62 ERA and a career-best 0.85 WHIP in 61 innings over 63 games. His ratio of 3.7 strikeouts per walk was by far the best of Albers' big league career.

Albers joins Jacob Barnes and Jeremy Jeffress among the Brewers' current right-handed setup options to closer Corey Knebel. Logan and Josh Hader are the left-handed options at the moment.

"Wire to wire, [2017] was my best season," Albers said. "I had a few ideas, talking to guys, about pitching up in the zone, more four-seam [fastballs], being able to attack lefties. I had gone back and forth between the curveball and slider a lot of my career, but I really just sold out on the slider. That helped me be more consistent."

Albers threw sliders nearly 30 percent of the time, a career high. His fastball topped out at 96.6 mph and averaged 93.4 mph, according to Statcast™. The combo held right-handed batters to a .163 average and lefties at .181.

"We see no reason it can't carry forward," Stearns said.

According to a report from Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith, Albers will earn $2.5 million base salaries in each year of the agreement, with a chance to earn $1 million more annually in incentives for appearances beyond 35 games.

With his contract complete, Albers becomes the senior member of the Brewers' 40-man roster. Left fielder Ryan Braun was born 11 months later than Albers in 1983.

Susac, meanwhile, went into a weeklong limbo. If the Brewers don't trade him in the next seven days, he will hit the waiver wire. If he clears, Susac will remain in Milwaukee's Minor League system.

The Brewers' crowded catching corps hurt Susac's chances of remaining on the 40-man roster. The Brewers already have out-of-options Jett Bandy in addition to the projected platoon of Manny Pina and Stephen Vogt. And prospect Jacob Nottingham is also on the 40-man. In addition to those players, the Brewers signed catcher Christian Bethancourt to a Minor League contract that includes a big league camp invitation.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Matt Albers