Report: Mutual Interest Between Cubs and Reliever John Axford

According to a report from Patrick Mooney, the Cubs are interested in John Axford to possibly close games next season and the former Brewers’ closer is interested in signing with the Cubs.

The Cubs are hoping to upgrade their bullpen and add both a starter and an outfielder and are one of at least 14 teams that has shown interest in John Axford since the Cardinals did not tender him a contract for next season.

Axford struggled mightily last season for the Brewers before he was dealt to St. Louis on August 30 for a PTBNL that ended up being RHP Michael Blazek, John Axford pitched okay for the Cardinals in 13 games (1.74 ERA, 1.36 WHIP).

John Axford is not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, so the team he signs with would have three years of control. The Brewers paid Axford $5 million last year.

John Axford has regressed over the last two years after his breakout performance during the 2011 season. Axford was 2-2 in 74 games in 2011 with a 1.95 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Axford saved 46 games for the Brewers. Axford stumbled to the tune of a 5-8 record the next season with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 75 games. Axford posted 35 saves in 2012.

Last year in 75 total appearances with the Brewers and Cardinals, Axford was 7-7 with a 4.02 ERA and an alarming 1.52 WHIP (73 hits, 26 walks and 65 strikeouts in 65 innings).

Patrick Mooney included very interesting quotes from Theo Epstein on his view about closers.

“There are pitchers we have on the roster that we feel comfortable pitching that ninth inning. But at the same time, it’s a nice carrot to be able to dangle in free agency. Maybe we can’t match another team in some area, but here we can give them the responsibility of the ninth inning and the marketability of the ninth inning and see if we can use that to our advantage to build a better overall bullpen.”

“It’s always better to just find talent that hasn’t been given the opportunity yet in the ninth inning, and then give them that responsibility and let them add to their market value, whether it’s through trade or for a future contract. (But) just because a guy has saves on his resume and therefore might cost a little more, he still might be a nice option – as long as you’re making sure you’re paying for talent and not just for a stat that (Chicago baseball writer) Jerome Holtzman made up.”

The Cubs have added Wesley Wright to the bullpen mix and have not ruled out Pedro Strop or Hector Rondon closing games for the team next season, plus a healthy Arodys Vizcaino would give Rick Renteria more options late in games.

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  • cubtex

    Axford would be Carlos Marmol part 2. Please no.

    • paulcatanese

      If he’s not hurt, he has no chance of coming to the Cubs.

      • cubtex

        If they sign him to close…we will be wishing we had Carlos Marmol back closing games :)

        • Ripsnorter1

          This is Kevin Gregg’s replacement.

          You watch, sir: he’s a lock to be signed. Period!

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            It’s just as Theo said, he’d be there to create competition and if he does do well he becomes a trade piece. I say sign him. He’s better than
            Gregg and has a better reputation. If he pitches near Gregg level last year he will definitely be able to be traded.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Lets say Seattle trades for Price…..then the staff has Felix Hernandez, Price and Iwakuma……think if Seattle then signs both Tanaka & Garza!

    • Tony_Hall

      Name one rotation that wouldn’t be better if they traded for Price and signed Tanaka and Garza.

    • cubtex

      Peter Gammons is saying that there is a great chance that Tanaka won’t be posted.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Gammons has been consistent about Tanaka not being posted. Reports from Japan do not think he will be posted either.

        • cubtex

          Gammons is very credible. I trust when he says something like that.

        • Tony_Hall

          I don’t get that, because if Dorasaga is right, not posting him would make him a FA in Japan and they would most likely lose him to a richer team.

          • cubtex

            I heard they will still have him for 2 more years and can post him again in 2 years

          • Tony_Hall

            FA to the US (9 years)
            Japanese FA, which is 7 years.

          • cubtex

            With two years left of team control, Tanaka’s team could decide to get
            one more year of performance from him before posting him next offseason.
            They’d risk injury and ineffectiveness, though, so they’ve got to
            calculate whether his value for one season (minus his salary) exceeds
            $20 million.

          • Tony_Hall

            But in NPB he is a Free Agent. That is what Dorasaga posted about how the NPB works.

          • cubtex

            This is what my understanding it is. If it wasn’t…..why would there be any question that he wouldn’t be posted? No way a team would risk losing the player for nothing.

          • Tony_Hall

            Here is what D posted.

            “FYI: Tanaka will become a free agent in Japan now, if Rakuten Eagles formerly announced to deny the player from his request to be posted.

            Free agency are 7 years for the players since drafted from high school, and 6 for college and shakai-jin (corporate- / independent teams). International FA stays 9 years. There are no minor leagues to “hide” a player in the system.

            This is the year to post him. Rakuten either makes some free money, or overpay Tanaka tremendously, in order to keep him from signing with richer Japanese teams like the Yomiuri Giants or Softbank Hawks.”

          • cubtex

            everywhere I look…I see that Rakuten still has control of him.

            Update: Jerry Crasnick
            reports Rakuten president Yozo Tachibana said the team may simply hold
            onto Tanaka rather than pawn him off for $20M. “We have an obligation to
            explain to our stakeholders whether it’s fair. There’s a possibility we
            won’t take the next step,” he said. They could hold onto him for a year
            and post him next year if the posting agreement changes again.

          • Tony_Hall

            That is what I have seen as well, but D has always seemed to know how it works in the Pacific Rim.

          • cubtex

            No offense to D. I believe the baseball experts who’s job it is to research and report information for a living :)

          • Tony_Hall

            Yeah, because they are never wrong or report bad info and are all experts on the NPB :)

            All of this is way more complicated then it needs to be.

          • cubtex

            there are more than 1 source saying this. It is not just one person. And think about it….would there even be a question that he wouldn’t be posted if they could lose him to a richer team in Japan for nothing?

          • Tony_Hall

            Here is some info I found that is from 2009.

            There are currently two systems for free agency:

            Players drafted prior to 2007

            Domestic – 8 seasons
            International – 9 seasons

            Players drafted in 2007 and beyond

            Domestic – 7 seasons
            International – 9 seasons

            http://yakyubaka.com/2009/11/18/npb-free-agency-system-explained/

          • Dorasaga

            Yup. Found the source above (reply to Tony).

          • SirGladiator

            That’s a good point, obviously if they don’t post him he will find a team that will promise to post him next year, sign with that team, and that team will be the one to get the 20 million next year. So they have no choice but to post him now.

          • Dorasaga

            I didn’t double check Tanaka’s contract status. Usually in Japan, they sign players year-by-year, rarely a multi-year one…

            And according to multiple sources, the Eagles signed to a 3-year contract on Dec. 22, 2012. Cubtex was correct on the team control. The twist is that the contract includes a clause that allows Tanaka be posted if requested.

            http://www.nikkansports.com/baseball/news/f-bb-tp0-20121222-1062890.html

            With that in the way, I think the problem goes down to whether or not Tanaka declared his intention of being posted, which news up to yesterday said he has not. It’s clear that he wants this, or else, why the clause?

            He’s probably waiting for the club (Rakuten Eagles) to give in to what other 11 clubs agreed with MLB, but the Eagles are adamant so far.

  • cubtex

    This is his numbers from 2012. He had ZERO saves in 2013. If you want to sign this guy it shouldn’t be as a closer. He is like Marmol. He cannot handle that role anymore.

    Axford’s biggest problem this season has been his control. Axford has
    never had pinpoint control — as evidenced by his career 10.4% walk
    rate, but he did a better job limiting his walks last season. After
    walking 8.2% of batters last year, Axford has walked 11.7% this season.
    And while his strikeout rate is up from last year, it hasn’t been enough
    to compensate for more walks. Axford has managed to get by with shaky
    control in the past, but it’s catching up with him this season.
    Axford has also given up home runs at an insane rate this season.
    Axford is giving up home runs on 22.2% of his fly balls. That’s the
    sixth worst rate among qualified relievers.

    • Tony_Hall

      Not saying I want Axford, I don’t, but what part of the low do you not get on the buy low/sell high signings?

      • cubtex

        what have I posted that means I don’t get that? He cannot close games. What does that have to do with buy low and sell high?

        • Tony_Hall

          I took it as his overall performance was bad, which it was.

          They do not plan to sign a guy like Axford and name him the starter. He would have to win the job in ST.

          • cubtex

            I think you meant closer not starter. I am sure if he signs here Axford would want to close and probably be told he would be given the opportunity to close and that it was his job to lose. Anyway……don’t want any part of Axford.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL, yeah closer. He would be given the opportunity, but no way he gets told it is his job to lose. Theo has very openly talked about the closer position and the Closer situation for 2014. It would take a much better player to get them to say it is this guys job to lose.

          • cubtex

            My point is that IF he gets the 1st crack to close games….it is the same thing as his job to lose Tony. I am sure that would be discussed before he would sign

          • Tony_Hall

            And that won’t happen, he will not be given 1st crack at the job. Unless they sign someone much better then him, there will be a competition in ST for the job.

          • cubtex

            Hopefully we won’t have to wonder. Don’t want any part of Axford

          • Ripsnorter1

            Here’s the part that Team Theo needs to get:

            Even though they buy low, they might not be able to sell high.
            Case in point: Kevin Gregg’s 2013 season with the Cubs.
            He had 33 saves, and they still couldn’t sell him for a single bag of M&Ms.

            Therefore, Axford might be bought low by the Cubs, but they may
            not be able to sell him no matter how good his performance.

          • Tony_Hall

            No kidding, and I thought teams hit on 100% of their deals.

          • gary3411

            Every team knows Axford has better stuff and higher potential than Kevin Gregg, not to mentiobn he’s younger. If he performs well in the first half, say 2011 well, he will be sought after.

          • Ripsnorter1

            He’ll be 31 on April 1, 2014.

            He gave up more hits than IP in 2013: 69 IP in 75 games; 73 H.
            Add in his horrific walk totals: 26 BB.
            Add in his horrific HR totals: 10 HRs allowed.

            Let’s check the splits:
            LHB are killing him: .289 BA/.382 OBP/.456 slug/.838 OPS
            RHB are killing him, too: .282 BA/.331 OBP/.430 slug/.761 OPS

            That .761 OPS by RHB…how many Cubs’ hitters had an OPS of .761 or better
            in 2013? (min. 100 AB)

            Answer:
            Navarro….856 OPS, but he’s gone.
            Murphy… 849 OPS, but he’s almost gone.
            Bogusevic…784 OPS, as a strictly platoon player.
            Sweeney….772 OPS, as a platoon player.
            Schierholtz…770 OPS, as a platoon player.

            Axford is making even RHB stars when he’s on the mound.

          • cubtex

            the high OBP numbers against both righties and lefties says a lot.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I say he’s done, but he could pull a Gregg and fool some folks and he’d have more value than Gregg.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            They couldn’t move Gregg but he saved 33 games. That turned out to be a helluva signing as far as us winning more ballgames.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          He’ll just create competition. It’s a message to Strop and others if he is signed. Even if he’s not it’s a message. Good one too as far as I’m concerned. Make sure that whoever gets the job knows that guys like Axford and
          Gregg are always out there to be picked up if current guy underperforms. Relievers yearn for that closer role. Big bump in payday…

  • cubtex

    Why not Jose Veras? I would much rather have a guy like that on a 1 year cheap deal.

  • cubtex

    The talk is now that Cano is signed with the M’s…they will move Nick Franklin. Now that would be a nice pickup for the Cubs. A 22 year old switch hitting 2nd baseman who will hit. They need outfielders so would a Nate Schierholtz be enough? They might have to sweeten it with something like Alberto Cabrera but he shouldn’t be too costly for a former top 80 prospect in all of baseball.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Nick Franklin:
      Sure, he’s young. But right now he cannot make contact vs ML pitching.
      He’d be a great compliment to Rizzo and Brett Jackson: power bat without
      much contact or BA.

      Do we need a 2B that cannot hit? I thought we already had enough of them with
      Barney and Valbuena.

      • cubtex

        The kid can hit. Look at his minor league numbers. He usually takes a year to adjust to a new level.

      • cubtex

        Would love to be able to do a Samardzija,Schierholtz for Taijuan Walker and Nick Franklin. Heck….I’d even through in Barney as a utility guy for them :)

      • cubtex

        Here’s a quick scouting report on Nick Franklin.

        Summation: Very good all-around player. Does a little
        bit of everything. Can hit for average and surprises with power.
        Potential .280+ hitter with 15-20 home runs and tons of doubles. Can
        also mix in 10-15 steals. Could hit toward the top of a lineup, possibly
        in the two-hole at his peak. Could be an All-Star caliber player if SS
        remains in the cards. Should be very good offensive contributor at both
        SS and 2B. Defense can work at SS but won’t be stellar. Hard-nosed
        player with very fundamentally sound game. Like him to remain at SS
        early in career and may not move off if he has early success.

  • SuzyS

    Yanks get Beltran.

    • cubtex

      that’s a good fit for them. I hope I don’t see ccoo come out now with his 78 wins prediction again. lol

      • SuzyS

        Maybe 77 wins is more like it…:-)
        Beltran is a nice sign for this year.

        I see a team that is going to keep the DL people really busy.

        • cubtex

          how bout you Suzy? will you bet me? lol I wish I could go to Vegas and get 77,78,79,80 or any number like that :) You would see a ticket with 7 figures on it :)

      • John_CC

        I call that a Perfect fit! He’s well over 30 and will be lucky to still be replacement level by the time his contract is up.

        And what is your obsession with the Yankees anyway?

        • cubtex

          No obsession. Just pointing out how a big market team operates and can compete each and every year.

          • John_CC

            No other team, big or small, operates like the Yankees.

          • cubtex

            yep. they go for it every year. I wish our team would. no doubt

      • cc002600

        you’re right, I won’t
        now I’ m pushing them down to 75 wins !!
        LOL

    • cubtex

      What do you think Suzy? Not a bad lineup so far.
      Ellsbury CF
      Jeter SS
      Tex 1B
      Beltran LF
      Soriano DH
      McCann C
      Ichiro RF
      3B ?
      2B Kelly Johnson ?

      • SuzyS

        Cubtex, the yanks are still doing exactly what I expected per our conversation several weeks ago.
        Beltran is a nice signing for an older player , but I don’t think I would have gone 3 years…However, it’s the Yanks and they play by their own rules.
        I still see most of their “aged” line-up a candidate for the disabled list for a great part of the summer…so a bigger question for the Yanks then anyone else…how good is their bench and AAA talent???
        Oh, that’s right…it’s the Yanks…they don’t need all that…they can just buy more, right???
        And their pitching??? Bullpen???

        Sorry Cubtex, I stand by my belief that they will field a “competitive team”,(by anyone else’s standards),
        that will go nowhere in the playoff’s…(if they make them at all).
        Due to aged players (Jeter, Soriano,Ichiro…etc), and question marks on the mound…I see them as a September fade type of team.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Lots of injury risk in that lineup. Like every single spot!

      • John_CC

        Its great if you expect half of those guys to produce like they did 2 and 3 years ago. Jeter, Ichiro, Teixiera? Really? What did any of them do last year.

        I’ll take Castro and Rizzo over Jeter and Teixi, I think they will both be better. And as much as I like Ichiro, he is a shell of himself even 3 years ago.

        Sorry, but that lineup does not impress me. I bet that those 8 players will not all play in 75% of their games together.

      • cc002600

        weak.
        very weak
        remember, Jeter is just about done. He is not the same guy from 5 years ago.
        Ichiro is 40, Sori is 38, Belatran is 38.
        weak and old
        75 wins !!!
        lol

      • triple

        Wow Tex, you think a lineup at the average age of 35 (everybody on the wrong side of their prime) will be that competitive?

        • paulcatanese

          You may be right about the Yanks, but one thing stands out,
          they will be entertaining and fun to watch. I can’t say the same being a Cub fan.
          I would say the Cubs used to be a lot of fun to watch no matter what they did, the last two years, ridiculous, shameful.

        • cubtex

          You act like players fall off the cliff at 35. Look at Soriano’s last 2 years. Look what Beltran did last year. Do you not think Jeter will come back and play well? He has a ton of pride and will get himself ready to play. They have a ton of players with track records and have a ton of depth. They will be in the thick of things all year. No doubt in my mind.

          • triple

            Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….really? I’m laughing because I have no idea how any part of my post implies something as serious as falling off a cliff. Seriously? I just don’t think that a team that finished with 85 wins last season in a tough division can replicate even the same season without the world’s best closer that baseball has ever seen.

            Yes Soriano has played well that last 2 years, and he stands to continue doing pretty well in 2014 especially if he is their DH.

            Beltran has been great for the last 2 years. Does that mean we should just expect him to keep those numbers up at the age of 37? Well if he’s taking steroids, yes. But he’s at the age where performance will drop.

            I have no doubts about Jeter. He is actually one of my favorite players in this era. I’ve always liked him. What happened last year was very unfortunate, but the reality of him picking up where he left off, now at the age of 40 is unrealistic.

            If that lineup you posted stays healthy all year, they can be in the pennant race. If they have to deal with injuries, which every team usually does, it may be a struggle for them to finish at .500.

          • cubtex

            One last post on this. The Yanks won 95 games in 2012 with this starting rotation. Repeat 95 games.

            Bartolo Colon age 38
            AJ Burnett age 34
            Freddy Garcia age 34
            CC age 30

            They also had Jeter at age 37 having a very good year. ARod was 35 and Jorge Posado was 39.

            Colon and Burnett are still ptiching effectively 2 years later.

          • SuzyS

            and your argument is????…a team composed of players on the downward side of 35 should win the World Series???
            In their individual primes, the Yanks team would be world beaters…as it stands just now…they look like a team where the starters will spend more time on the DL then on the field.
            That is probably what will happen…but then, the Yanks…at the trade deadline…will try to buy their way to a younger, better team.
            I think you’d lose your shirt in Vegas.

      • Tony_Hall

        There better keep buying up 30 something guys to fill the bench, and 3B and 2B (Johnson is for the bench and insurance in case they can’t) and don’t forget the rotation, which is CC, Kuroda, Nova, ??, ??

        JH is in heaven watching this roster being created for one year.

      • Eugene Debs

        3B looks strong. ? is an underrated talent.

      • Roe Skidmore

        Old, poor defensively overall…will be a bust.

  • Guest

    Sigh.

  • Eugene Debs

    So this is what its like to be the Montreal Expos.

    • Bredstik

      What is Youppi doing these days?

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