MILWAUKEE — General manager David Stearns made another move Monday to bolster the Milwaukee Brewers, this time for a pitcher.
But Stearns, who is continuing to explore ways to upgrade the team’s rotation, instead signed veteran relief pitcher Matt Albers to a two-year, $5 million contract.
The agreement was first reported by The Athletic but had not been confirmed by the team because Albers had yet to undergo a physical. Milwaukee will need to clear a spot for him on its 40-man roster.
The veteran right-hander is the latest newcomer to join the Brewers, who acquired outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain last week and previously added veteran free agent pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo this offseason.
Albers, 35, appeared in 63 games last season for Washington and went 7-2 with a 1.62 ERA. He struck out 63 batters while walking 17 and posted an 0.852 WHIP in 61 innings.
The 12-year veteran debuted with Houston in 2006 and pitched for the Orioles, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Indians and White Sox before joining the Nationals last season. Albers is 36-39 with a 4.13 career ERA.
Stearns added two other relievers in January.
Left-hander Boone Logan agreed to a one-year deal with a club option and right-hander J.J. Hoover signed a minor league deal that included an invitation to spring training.
Gallardo, a former Brewers starter who signed a non-guaranteed contract this winter, could factor into the bullpen mix as a long reliever.
Albers will join a relief corps that includes All-Star closer Corey Knebel, who saved 39 games and posted a 1.78 ERA in 76 appearances last season, and hard-throwing left-hander Josh Hader, a starter in the minors who emerged as a multi-inning middle-relief specialist as a rookie, going 2-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 35 appearances.
Hader performed so well in that role that Milwaukee has opted to keep him in the bullpen to start the 2018 season, even though the rotation will be without Jimmy Nelson until at least June as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
“There are things that could happen that could change that, but right now that’s what we’re thinking,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We’ll try to make (Hader) better at that. I think we can help him be better and he can be even better in that role with a year of experience and a year of training specifically for that job.
“I think he can be as strong as he’s ever been in that spot.”
The Brewers’ bullpen finished fourth in the National League last season with a 4.30 ERA and was third in the league with 610 innings.