UPDATE: The Red Sox are now denying the report, according to Ian Browne.
Maureena Mullen, citing an unnamed source, is reporting that the Red Sox have released Matt Albers, allowing the reliever to pitch for a Japanese team. The Sox are expected to receive only cash compensation.
Color me baffled by this. While it had come out in the past 24 hours that Albers was a possible trade chip for the Sox, Japan is not where I expected him to end up at all. Given the strong spring he had, and with the weakness of some of the bullpens around the league, it's hard to imagine he didn't have a Major League opportunity available. Instead, this might be a financial move for Albers, if the Japanese team offered him enough in dollars or years it could make a lot of sense for him to ask for his release.
With Albers out of the way, players like Hideki Okajima and Scott Atchison, hanging on by the skin of their teeth, might have a better shot of surviving the spring cuts. Of course, alternatively, it might have just opened up a spot for Alfredo Aceves to start the year with the big league team.