Pirates Acquire John Axford

The Pirates have officially acquired righty John Axford from the Indians, the clubs have announced. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the transaction (via Twitter). Axford, 31, joined Cleveland on a one-year, $4.5MM free agent contract after being non-tendered by the Cardinals.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians

Pittsburgh added the righty through a straight waiver claim , tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. That means the club will be on the hook for the approximately $1.1MM that he is still owed this year, though it will not need to part with any young talent to add the veteran arm.

On the year, Axford has posted a 3.92 ERA with 10.5 K/9 but a troubling 6.5 BB/9 over 43 2/3 innings. He does have a career-best 54.1% groundball rate, but advanced metrics have not been impressed on the whole (4.71 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, 3.80 SIERA). Axford opened the season as the Cleveland closer, and picking up ten saves in the process, but lost the job with inconsistent performance. He has been much better of late, though saw his ERA jump 78 points in his last outing (August 8th) when he gave up four earned runs on three hits and an ill-timed home run.

Axford has now been dealt in August for the second time in as many seasons. Last year, the one-time Brewers closer moved from Milwaukee to St. Louis in late August. Though Axford has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, it seems rather likely that he will be a non-tender candidate once again. As with Ernesto Frieri, who was recently acquired and later outrighted by the Pirates, early-career save opportunities make it difficult to justify tendering contracts to non-elite bullpen arms.

For the Bucs, Axford represents another attempt to shore up a pen that has failed to match last year’s unit, which was third in baseball with a collective 2.89 ERA. In 2014, the Pittsburgh relief corps has put up a negative fWAR tally and combined to allow 3.52 earned per nine.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

21 Responses to Pirates Acquire John Axford Leave a Reply

  1. discollama 11 months ago

    The Ax Man goeth

  2. Philip Marlowe 11 months ago

    Two more till he’s made his rounds of the NL Central.

  3. Hurdled Again 11 months ago

    Sigh. This bodes poorly.

  4. Ron Greenawalt 11 months ago

    wow really Frieri 2.0

  5. Ron Loreski 11 months ago

    I like this move. PIrates desperately needed another arm in the pen. Hopefully there’s a DFA on the horizon for Stolmy Pimentel and Jeanmar Gomez. Time to bring Vin Mazarro up too.

    • MonsterFace 11 months ago

      I’d rather they’d have DFA’d Gomez right now. The Pimentel move seems odd–just the other day on the Bucs’ site, there was an article extolling Stolmy’s potential and describing him as a future rotation candidate. This seems hasty, à la Grilli for Frieri.

      • Philip 11 months ago

        I agree, given the choice it’d be Gomez but you have to figure cumpton will be sent down to make room for axford and they’ll probably keep Gomez and pimentel in the pen so they don’t lose them on waivers, then bring up mazzaro and, ugh, frieri for September callups

    • HopkinsFC 11 months ago

      Stolmy will stay, he still has potential to develop but Jenmar will go. September will be here soon enough and Mazzaro can come up then, not that he is the answer. Axford potential could bridge the starter to Watson and Melancon.

    • Skeeb Wilcox 11 months ago

      Vin Mazzaro should have been up all year. I actually feel I could have gone Eddie Deezen on that line and typed it in all caps…

  6. Had a pretty good stretch from about June 22nd to August 4th (before the Yankees roughed him up) with 4BB’s, 16Ks, so should be interesting to see how he fits

  7. PHILIP S SMITH 11 months ago

    He was horrible for the Tribe… He shows some promise at times, but when your contending you may not have the patients.

    • Chris Vinnit 11 months ago

      You haven’t seen the Bucs bullpen. Outside our setup man and closer, “promise at times” is a huge upgrade over “cross your fingers and pray.”

    • TL 11 months ago

      We were throwing Frieri out there when he clearly didn’t have it. I don’t think they could do much worse! Searage is the king of reclamation projects, so I’m hoping he sees something he can fix. Axford doesn’t have to be dominant, just serviceable.

      Bargain bin hunting and reclamation projects seem to be the only way that the Pirates can add these veteran arms. Its been 90% effective, so I’m willing to give them the benfit of the doubt here,.

  8. Collwoll 11 months ago

    I believe most of us in Cle are happy to be rid of Axford. Walk, hit, hr, ballgame. Get used to that pirate fans

  9. Sufferfortribe 11 months ago

    Axford went from the Ax-man to the hatchet guy. Happy that we have Cody Allen now.

  10. Jack Miller 11 months ago

    Used to be so dominant….

  11. TL 11 months ago

    I think NH still has some capital stored up given that he has made Volquez at 5 mil look like a relative bargain. Most of his other reclamation projects have turned out to be bargains as well (Burnett, Grilli, Melancon, Worley, etc…). Sure, Frieri has been bad so far, but all they gave up for him was a guy who was probably never going to regain his confidence here (and also had the chance to become a clubhouse distraction). Lets hope Searage sees something he can fix in Axford. I’m also glad they kept Stolmy as I think he has some great potential. I don’t know what has happened this year, perhaps he is playing through an injury?

    Also, this pickup is made better if Axford is willing to revisit the awesome Rollie Fingers stache.

  12. David Coonce 11 months ago

    Who has more of a career going forward: Axford or Jim Henderson?

  13. rkellerm 11 months ago

    He could be a great pick up!

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