Blue Jays agree to minor-league deal with pitcher Al Alburquerque


Al Alburquerque. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

TORONTO – Reliever Al Alburquerque and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to terms on a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training, an industry source told Sportsnet on Thursday morning.

The 31-year-old righty appeared in 21 games for the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox last season, allowing five earned runs over 18 innings with eight walks and 14 strikeouts. His fastball velocity also recovered to an average of 93.5 m.p.h. in 2017, up from 91.3 in a 2016 spent mostly in the minors with the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.

Alburquerque, originally signed by the Chicago Cubs, emerged as a solid setup man with the Detroit Tigers early in his career, his best season coming in 2014, when he posted a 2.51 ERA in 57.1 innings over 72 games.

Over the course of 245 innings in 264 career big-league games, his fastball-slider repertoire has produced 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings and a 48.6 per cent ground-ball rate but also five walks per nine innings.

He joins a bullpen mix that features closer Roberto Osuna along with setup men Ryan Tepera, Dominic Leone, Danny Barnes and Aaron Loup. Youngsters Tim Mayza, Matt Dermody and Carlos Ramirez are also in the mix but have options and could open the season at triple-A Buffalo.

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