The Toronto Blue Jays, on Thursday morning, agreed to a minor-league deal with reliever Al Alburquerque, including an invitation to spring training, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to Bluebird Banter. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet was first to report the news.
Alburquerque is likely to factor into Toronto’s 2018 bullpen, although he’ll likely spend most of his time with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
In 2017, Alburquerque split time between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox. In 21 major league games, he posted an ERA of 2.50 and FIP of 2.66 over 18 innings, striking out 14 and walking eight.
Alburquerque found success with the Detroit Tigers from 2011 to 2015, earning an ERA of 3.20 over the five-year span. While a free agent in the 2015-2016 offseason, Alburquerque signed a one-year, $1.1 million major-league contract with the Los Angeles Angels, but spent most of the season in the minors after a late spring training demotion.
Alburquerque’s four-seam fastball velocity, in his little major league time in 2017, increased by nearly two MPH over his 2016 numbers. It still remains two MPH less than his 2015 numbers, but it marks a significant uptick in the 31-year-old.
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 14, with the first full-squad workout on February 19.