Cleveland Indians Sign John Axford
Update: The Cleveland Indians have made the signing of John Axford official. The team designated reliever Trey Haley for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Link) the Cleveland Indians are going to sign 30-year old closer John Axford. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter) first reported that the Indians were focused on Axford. Financial terms of the deal have not been released.
The Indians had been seeking relief help in the form of a proven closer to replace the departed Chris Perez who was not offered a contract by the Cleveland Indians and is currently a free agent.
Axford was a mainstay in the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen from 2009 through the first half of 2013 and served as the teams closer from 2009 through 2012 saving 105 games in that span including a league leading 46 in 2012.
He struggled with the Brewers as their primary setup man in 2013 appearing in 62 games (54.2 IP) posting a 6-7 record with a 4.45 ERA. On the season he tied Fernando Rodney and Jim Johnson for the most blown saves in the Major Leagues with seven (six with Milwaukee).
At the end of August he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals where he fared much better over his final 13 games (10.1 IP) posting a 1-0 record with a 1.74 ERA (2ER/10.1IP).
Axford was arbitration eligible for the second time and had made $5.5M in 2013 in his first year of arbitration (Super 2). The St. Louis Cardinals chose not to offer him a contract for 2014 landing him on the free agent market.
Overall in 2013 he appeared in 75 games (65 IP) and posted a 7-7 record with a 4.02 ERA. He struck out a batter an inning with a non-intentional walk rate of 3.18 BB/9.
During the winter meetings Terry Frnancona was asked if Cody Allen or Bryan Shaw could close? Francona said he was sure both could handle the role but he’s not sure that puts the team in the best situation to win. He spoke very high of Cody Allen saying, “we used him in so many high leverage situations from the 6th inning on bases loaded whatever to snuff out a rally we basically went to Cody right left handed that it didn’t matter and he was so good at it that and I’d think he’d continue to get better. So it’s hard to lose that guy..that one guy can make your whole bullpen that much better.”