Andrew Albers heads to Japan

 North Battleford, Sask., native Andrew Albers has signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP

North Battleford, Sask., native Andrew Albers has signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP

By Kevin Glew

Canadian Baseball Network

Left-hander Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) announced on Twitter on Monday that he has signed with the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) circuit in Japan.

It's believed to be a one-year deal that will reportedly pay him just over seven figures. The Seattle Mariners granted Albers his release so he could sign with the Japanese club.

Given his strong late-season performance with the Mariners, the 32-year-old southpaw had likely garnered interest from big league clubs. In nine games (including six starts) with the Mariners in August and September, Albers went 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA and fanned 37 batters in 41 innings. He also recorded his first major league save on September 25 when he tossed three scoreless innings against the Oakland A's.

Albers was acquired by the Mariners from the Atlanta Braves on August 11 after he had posted a 12-3 record and a 2.61 ERA in 26 appearances - including 17 starts - with triple-A Gwinnett.

Prior to his stint with the Mariners in 2017, the 6-foot-1 lefty had pitched in parts of three major league seasons with the Minnesota Twins in 2013 and 2016 and with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015.

Originally selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 12th round of the 2004 MLB draft out of high school, Albers did not sign. Four years later, he was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the 10th round out of the University of Kentucky and he signed with the Pads.

This is not Albers' first experience pitching in a foreign league. He made 28 starts for the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2014.

Albers has also been a strong contributor to the Canadian national team, including being a member of the 2011 and 2015 gold medal-winning Pan Am Games squads and serving on the pitching staff for Canada's World Baseball Classic entries in 2013 and 2017.