Canadian pitcher Andrew Albers is putting his major league career on hold for at least one season.
The Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization officially signed the left-hander to a one-year contract worth $700,000 US on Wednesday, according to the Yonhap News Agency. He also receives a $100,000 signing bonus.
Albers, 28, is the first player to join the KBO since it abolished a $300,000 salary cap on non-Korean players earlier this month.
In 10 starts with the Minnesota Twins last season, he had a 2-5 record and 4.05 earned-run average.
"It'd be a really neat experience," Albers told reporters recently of pitching in Korea.”It would probably be something that would be a lot of fun, to try and go and play baseball on a completely different continent."
Albers’s immediate future with the Twins was in question after the team signed free-agent hurlers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes this off-season to join a projected rotation that also includes Kevin Correia, Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey.
Albers's agent Blake Corosky says there are a number of reasons why South Korea is a good fit.
"We're talking about a young man who's never earned more than $25,000 in any league playing professional baseball until last year," he told reporters recently. "So, the monetary side is something to consider for sure."
Corosky says the move would also make Albers a free agent, something that wouldn't happen with the Twins until 2019.
While pondering his baseball future over the winter, Albers returned to the classroom for a fourth consecutive year as a substitute teacher at John Paul II Collegiate in his native North Battleford, Sask. Albers is a graduate of the school.
He has also been touring schools in his home province to tell youngsters about the value of hard work and pursuing dreams for a series of Dream and Believe Camps sponsored by the Saskatoon-based mining company Cameco.
Albers is the eighth Saskatchewan native to play in the majors and first in 21 years.
Drafted by San Diego in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft, he auditioned for Minnesota more than two years ago and signed on March 10, 2011 after the Padres released him.
Last season, Albers set a few Twins records, including eight-plus shutout innings in his major league debut and 17 1/3 shutout innings to start his MLB career.