John Axford Will Sign with Indians
According to reports that surfaced late last night, the Indians appear to be on their way to signing former Brewers closer and Cardinals Set-up man, John Axford. In need of a closer after the release of Chris Perez, it would appear as though Axford will be penciled into the role the moment he signs on the dotted line.
According to a tweet in the later part of the evening from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Indians were “focused on Axford.” After watching closers be snatched up left and right during the earlier parts of free agency, or being priced out on other, the Indians felt it was necessary to strike on a player that would fit into their plans from both on the field and monetarily.
Sources: #Indians focused on Axford.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2013
Buster Olney of ESPN made the move all but official when he filed a report stating that Axford was headed to the Indians. As one of the game’s most well-connected and well trusted sources for breaking news, if Olney says it is happening, it’s about as safe a bet as there is. Indians beat writer Jordan Bastian also helped seal the deal when he tweeted out that the Indians and Axford would probably agree on a 1 year deal thanks to the two years of arbitration Axford has remaining.
No details yet, but Axford’s deal is likely a 1-year pact due to his having two more arbitration years after the coming season.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) December 16, 2013
So what exactly are the Indians getting with John Axford? In a worst case scenario, they get a pitcher with a lively arm but also with potential control problems. It was this control problem that cost Axford his job as the Brewers everyday closer back in 2012 and eventually led to him being traded the Cardinals.
However, in a best case scenario Axford regains the form he displayed back in 2011 and once again becomes one of the most dominant closers in all of baseball. This is something that does not seem as far-fetched as you may think. Axford may very well turn out to be a classic change of scenery guy. After struggling mightily in 2012 and throughout much of 2013, it wasn’t until his trade to the Cardinals when he began to look like the John Axford of old. Now, with the tutelage of Mickey Callaway, the same man who resurrected the career of Ubaldo Jimenez, there is little reason to doubt that John Axford could turn into one of the best signings of the offseason.
To top things off, Axford also has two remaining years of arbitration eligibility. These means that the Indians will still retain control of Axford so long as they are willing to tender him a contract. The Indians typically avoid arbitration like the black plague so if Axford were to work out they would likely come to terms each subsequent year until he hits free agency. If it doesn’t work out in 2013, they can simply non-tender him and allow him to walk away.
So, while fan may be underwhelmed by the signing of John Axford, the shouldn’t at all be disappointed. They have managed to sign a former closer who once saved 46 games for mere chump change. That’s almost unthinkable with how the market for pitching has escalated. Plus, we have seen over recent years that the Indians have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough when it comes to pitching.