Albers a free agent after Orioles' non-tender

Albers a free agent after Orioles' non-tender

BALTIMORE -- As expected, the Orioles declined to offer a contract to Matt Albers, a move that officially grants the 27-year-old reliever free agency.

The deadline for all teams to offer a contract to arbitration-eligible players under their control is 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday. Albers aside, Baltimore has five players facing arbitration: Jeremy Guthrie, Jim Johnson, Luke Scott, Felix Pie and Adam Jones. The Orioles, like most other teams, will try to come to an agreement with those players and avoid going to an arbitration hearing.

The O's avoided arbitration with Albers last winter by signing him to a one-year deal worth $680,000, and he pitched to a 4.52 ERA in 62 games in 2010. But the organization felt his performance wasn't enough to justify what he would have been awarded in salary for next season. According to baseball's collective bargaining agreement, when a team tenders contracts, it can't cut any more than 20 percent of what a player earned last season in salary and performance bonuses, or 30 percent of those figures during the past two seasons.

Albers showed that he is capable of being an effective Major League reliever, although he was plagued by inconsistency. He pitched to a 6.75 ERA in the first month of the season, only to follow it up with a 2.70 mark in May and a 6.94 ERA in June. Albers' best month was July, when he posted a 1.93 ERA, allowing just four runs over 18 2/3 innings.

Relying mostly on his sinkerball, Albers has Major League stuff. But given the wealth of available arms this offseason, the Orioles opted to sever ties. They could try to re-sign Albers at a cheaper price, since non-tendered players can be re-signed by their teams at larger cuts than the ones previously stipulated, although it's an unlikely scenario.

On the flip side, the organization will also be looking at other teams' non-tenders as potential fits. While it's rare, impact players like David Ortiz, Matt Capps and John Buck were all non-tendered at one point, and given that Baltimore has money to spend, it's another useful way of procuring players who have become too pricey elsewhere.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.