Andrew Albers will be in Minneapolis this weekend to take part in TwinsFest and accept the organization's Minor League Player of the Year Award.
He also may be saying goodbye.
Albers has reached an agreement to pitch for the Hanwha Eagles next season, his agent said, pending an agreement on compensation for the Twins. Toronto-based agent Blake Corosky declined to confirm terms of Albers' deal, but SportsNet Canada reported that the soft-throwing lefthander could be paid approximately $1 million for one year.
The money makes the offer enticing -- "We're talking about a young man who until last year had never made more than $25,000 a season in his professional career," Corosky said -- as does the opportunity to speed up his career timetable. Albers' memorable major-league debut last August, in which he didn't allow a run in his first two starts, came when he was 27. Even if he stayed in the majors for the next five years, the North Battleford, Saskatchewan native would not reach free agency until after his 34th birthday. If Albers has a successful year in Korea, he could return to the United States as a free agent next winter and seek a larger contract.
"It's a good opportunity for Andrew. His case is a little unusual" because of his age and the circuitous route he took to the major leagues, Corosky said. Elbow surgery cost Albers the entire 2009 season, and he pitched in the independent Canadian-American Association in 2010.
Couple that with the Twins' suddenly crowded rotation, where free agent signees Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes are guaranteed spots, and heading overseas makes sense. "We've heard really good things about [Hanwha]. We've done as much investigation as we can," Corosky said. "The most important thing to us is that Andrew would be treated very well, and that's been the case with everyone we've talked to who has been there."
The Twins are talking to Hanwha, who originated the discussion last weekend, about compensation, but have yet to strike a deal.
Albers created a sensation by starting his career with 17 1/3 scoreless innings, but he didn't collect another victory and posted in 5.70 ERA in his eight subsequent starts. He is one of a half-dozen pitchers realistically competing for the fifth spot in the Twins' rotation. But negotiating his departure for South Korea would free a spot on the Twins' 40-man rotation, flexibility the team needs as it continues to pursue another free agent before spring training opens next month.