John Axford Rumors

AL Rumors: Axford, Hamels, Red Sox

It’s been almost one year since the trade that sent Tommy Milone from the A’s to the Twins and the deal has suited the hurler well, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com writes.  Through eleven starts this season with Minnesota, Milone owns a 2.84 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.  Milone didn’t demand a trade from Oakland, but he did politely request one.

It wasn’t like a ‘Here, trade me type thing,’” Milone said. “Obviously it wasn’t something that was supposed to be (public). It’s just one of those things that if they felt there wasn’t a spot open up here, then I’d like to see if there’s an opportunity elsewhere. And I guess it presented itself with Sam Fuld being available. It’s kind of bittersweet to leave after a few years of being here, leaving some of the guys and the coaching staff. But there was an opportunity.”

Here’s more from the AL..

  • The Tigers are among the teams that have inquired on Rockies reliever John Axford, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.  However, at this point, it’s far from a certainty that the Tigers will be buyers.  The Tigers are 45-46 after today’s loss against the Orioles.  Here’s more from the American League..
  • The Red Sox, as expected, were on hand for Cole Hamels‘ Sunday start and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears that there was a high-ranking scout there to watch the Phillies ace.  Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) noted that it might be hard to gauge Hamels as the Marlins are missing Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, and Michael Morse.   Even with Miami at less than 100% strength, Hamels didn’t have a great showing, allowing five runs on eight hits in three innings of work.
  • A scout at today’s game told Crasnick (on Twitter) that Hamels “looked hot..and not very interested in being out there.”  Of course, that’s somewhat understandable to those of us in the Northeast today.
  • Manager John Gibbons told reporters that Aaron Sanchez will pitch in relief when he returns to the Blue Jays later this week, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star tweets.   One might speculate that Sanchez being slotted in the bullpen might be a sign that Toronto intends on acquiring a starter between now and the deadline.  Sanchez will make one relief appearance in Triple-A before joining the Blue Jays’ bullpen.

Rockies Notes: Trades, Hundley, CarGo, Tulowitzki

Entering the All-Star break, just three teams — the Phillies, Brewers and Marlins — have fewer wins than the Rockies, who find themselves 11 games out of contention in the National League West. With Colorado looking more and more like a deadline seller, here’s the latest out of Denver…

  • In a mailbag piece, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that he can envision Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Wilin Rosario and John Axford being traded in the next two weeks. Though Nick Hundley appears to be a classic trade candidate — he’s hitting well in the first season of an affordable two-year deal — Saunders writes that he’s emerged as a strong presence in the clubhouse, which upper management may not want to lose. Blackmon would make an intriguing trade candidate, though his struggles against lefties and significant home/road splits throughout his career would seem like potential hindrances to his trade value, in my mind.
  • Gonzalez, who has battled injuries frequently throughout his Rockies tenure, tells the Post’s Nick Groke that he’s healthy for the first time in a season and feels that his surgically repaired knee finally has the strength to allow him to wait on his back leg to adjust to breaking pitches. CarGo hit .464/.483/.929 with four doubles and three homers over the final week of the first half.
  • Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has been in trade rumors for years, and he addressed the constant speculation at yesterday’s All-Star festivities when meeting with the media. Via the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin, Tulo told reporters, “Right now, I’m still a Rockie. I’ve dealt with [trade rumors] for a couple years now. I’m still in a Rockies uniform. It is what it is.” Tulo went on to say that he feels the Rockies can eventually put a winner on the field, citing promising young teammates such as Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu. Tulowitzki also went on to say that he takes “a lot of pride in staying in one organization.” Tulo called Derek Jeter his favorite player (the reason behind his No. 2 in Colorado) and discussed the possibility of staying Colorado forever. “Not too many guys get to do it in this day and age. It would be cool, when I am done playing, to say that I did that,” said Tulowitzki.

Rosenthal On Padres, Rockies, Rollins, Rangers

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • The Cubs and Astros would make sense as teams who could pursue the Padres‘ starting pitching, Rosenthal suggests. The Padres would likely have interest in the Cubs’ collection of young middle infielders, and Astros manager A.J. Hinch used to work for the Padres.
  • The Rockies are open to trading Troy Tulowitzki but haven’t been aggressive in trying to do so, Rosenthal says. Nonetheless, the Rockies could have a huge impact as sellers if they chose, given that they have Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, John Axford and LaTroy Hawkins.
  • The Dodgers plan to give Jimmy Rollinsa long leash.” Rollins hasn’t hit well this year, but he’s been better this month (.286/.333/.464). Top prospect Corey Seager isn’t exceptional defensively, and if they went with him as a full-time starter, they’d likely feel they had to deal or release Rollins out of respect. That would leave them in a tough spot if Seager didn’t play well.
  • The Rangers could both sell and buy at the deadline, perhaps dealing Yovani Gallardo but acquiring fellow veteran starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who could then join Texas’ rotation for the next several years. They could also pursue less of a headline-grabbing route by simply pursuing relievers, as well as a hitter they could use against left-handed pitching.


NL Notes: Turner, Dodgers, Axford, Phillies

Cubs righty Jacob Turner has been shut down after his elbow “flared up,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters, including ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers (Twitter link). Turner had made two promising rehab starts at Double-A, and was looking like a possible rotation or pen option in the near term for Chicago. The club claimed the former top prospect off waivers last year from the Marlins and exercised his $1MM option for 2015.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Despite their recent offensive woes, the Dodgers see the acquisition of bats as a “lower priority” to adding arms to the rotation, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters, including Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Friedman says he sees reason to believe that the club’s run production will get back on track, and also likes that the organization has several relievers advancing back from injuries. The rotation, though, looks somewhat thin at the back end. While the team may still get some innings out of Brandon Beachy, who is working back through a rehab stint, it is currently relying on Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias, both of whom have struggled to continue their surprisingly excellent work from earlier in the year.
  • Rockies righty John Axford has put up strong results for the club, and Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes that he could either become a useful trade piece or be looked at as an asset to be retained. Axford comes with one more year of control via arbitration, effectively providing the club an option year, though he’ll figure to be in line for a nice raise on his $2.6MM salary this year as he continues to rack up saves. Groke notes the possibility of an extension, and club GM Jeff Bridich says that “moving ahead with Axford for future seasons is something we would at least consider.” From my perspective, the smarter play would be to see what Axford will fetch on the trade market and tender him a contract if a strong offer can’t be found. He has been quite good, even if peripherals don’t quite support his 1.31 ERA, with a career-best 60.7% groundball rate that is surely particularly attractive to the club. But extending a reliever is always risky business, particularly when the name in question is 32 years old and has a track record of inconsistent results.
  • When he formally joins the Phillies, reported new executive Andy MacPhail could spend some time evaluating the baseball operations department before deciding whether to make any changes or additions to the front office, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. One possibility, per a source, would be for MacPhail to try to bring on Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak in some capacity. The young executive got his start with the Orioles when MacPhail was in charge there. Klentak was a guest on the MLBTR Podcast’s third episode, back in October.

Pitcher Notes: Axford, Minor, Marmol, Hernandez

Yesterday, for the first time in nearly 15 years, five pitchers threw at least seven innings and allowed two hits or fewer, notes MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson, Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimenez, Boston’s Joe Kelly, and Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer turned the trick. Bartolo Colon was one of the quintet from 2000 (then with the Indians) and was the Mets’ starting pitcher today and drove in a run for the first time since 2005. Time marches slowly in our national pastime.

In other hurler news from around baseball:

  • The Rockies have placed reliever John Axford on the family medical emergency list to tend to his two-year-old son, reports Nick Groke of The Denver Post. Doctors have had to remove all the tissue and skin at the spot of a rattlesnake bite Jameson Axford suffered last month (the incident is detailed by Groke), down to the tendon and bone. To replace Axford on the roster, the Rockies selected the contract of right-hander Scott Oberg and created a spot on the 40-man roster for the 25-year-old rookie, who will make his MLB debut, by moving infielder Charlie Culberson to the 60-day disabled list.
  • The BravesMike Minor has suffered a setback while rehabbing his left shoulder, but surgery is not under consideration for now, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “He’s experienced some discomfort as he’s started to stretch himself out,” Braves Director of Baseball Operations John Hart said. “So, we’ve brought him up here to have…our medical people take a look at what is going on. We don’t have any recommendation yet. At the moment, he’ll return to Florida to continue the rehab. But there’s obviously some level of concern because the discomfort came back.
  • Former closer Carlos Marmol held a showcase in the Dominican Republic today and displayed velocity in the mid-90s with a new arm slot, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Marmol was released by the Reds last November, but has been pitching in the Dominican and Venezuela this winter. Over a nine-year MLB career with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Marlins, Marmol has a 3.57 ERA, 11.6 K/9, and 6.2 BB/9 mark in 577 innings with 117 saves.
  • Cuban right-hander Jorge Hernandez auditioned for 20 teams in the Dominican Republic and struck out 11 of the 18 hitters he faced, according to Sanchez in a separate tweet. The Twins did not have a presence at either the Marmol or Hernandez showcase, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.

Rosenthal On Rockies, Drew, Padres, Braves

Other teams asked Major League Baseball about the Rockies‘ decision to add John Axford to their roster so early in the spring, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Axford signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies in early February, but the team added him to its roster March 1, effectively turning a minor-league deal into a big-league one. To clear space on their roster, they moved Tyler Chatwood to the 60-day DL, a move they were not allowed to make in the offseason. The idea is that the team might have effectively agreed to a big-league deal with Axford but signed him to a minor-league deal purely to manipulate its roster. The Rockies, of course, could plausibly claim that they were impressed by Axford early in the spring and wanted to roster him so that he couldn’t exercise his out clause later in the month, perhaps making the decision early as a vote of confidence in Axford and in their team. Here are more highlights from Rosenthal’s latest notes column.

  • Scouts have doubts about Stephen Drew as the Yankees‘ second baseman, Rosenthal writes. The Yankees signed Drew for $5MM in the offseason with the idea that he would provide veteran stability in the middle infield, given that they’re going with youngster Didi Gregorius at shortstop and their backup plans at second, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder, are also inexperienced.
  • The Padres are reportedly among the teams most interested in Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, but Rosenthal reports that they are unlikely to pay more than the $70MM Olivera expects to get.
  • Teams interested in starting pitching depth could turn to the Braves‘ collection of minor-league signees, including Eric Stults, Chien-Ming Wang and Wandy Rodriguez. Stults can opt out of his deal April 3, while Wang can opt out July 1. Whether Rodriguez has an out, and when, is unknown.

Minor Moves: John Axford, Mark Rogers

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Rockies have selected the contract of reliever John Axford and moved pitcher Tyler Chatwood to the 60-day disabled list, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. That the Rockies would add Axford isn’t surprising — when they signed Axford to a minor-league deal last month, MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted that it was likely Axford would make the team. Axford’s addition to the 40-man is significant, given that he’s set to make $2.6MM in the Majors, with the possibility of making up to $1.5MM more with incentives. Axford posted a 3.95 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9 in 54 2/3 innings with the Indians and Pirates last season, offering his usual blend of strikeout stuff and control troubles.
  • The Rangers have signed right-hander Mark Rogers to a minor league contract, tweets EPSN’s Jerry Crasnick. Rogers, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft by the Brewers and a top 100 prospect by Baseball America in 2005 and 2006, has seen his career derailed by shoulder injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. The 29-year-old made two appearances last year for the Mariners‘ Triple-A affiliate before being released. He then hooked on with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League making 18 starts with a line of 4.17 ERA, 4.6 K/9, and 6.2 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings. Rogers’ last MLB action came in 2012 with the Brewers.

NL West Notes: Axford, McCarthy, Diamondbacks

Tonight is the 87th Academy Awards ceremony and a pre-eminent Oscar prognosticator is Rockies reliever John Axford, who was a perfect 18-for-18 last year and 32-for-33 the past two years. Now, Axford, who graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in Film and Television, is offering predictions in all 24 categories, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding and Gemma Kaneko. “I didn’t do all the categories last year, and some people were a little upset by it,” Axford admitted. “This year I’m going all the way, to see what happens. This year, since I got so much stuff last year about it, I did them all.

And the winner is…

  • Axford and the rest of the bullpen will be key to the Rockies‘ 2015 season, opines The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders.
  • Brandon McCarthy, who inked a four-year contract with the Dodgers worth $48MM, expected to re-sign with the Yankees during the five-day signing window after the conclusion of the World Series, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. “It’s so stupid, but you feel like an actor,” said McCarthy. “You sound so pretentious and stupid saying it, but you’re like, ‘someone showed me attention.’ You play your whole life for people to say nice things. And one team is being aggressive, and one team is just kind of hemming and hawing about it.” McCarthy added he “certainly would have had a long discussion about” accepting a three-year deal from the Yankees, if one had ever been offered.
  • The signing of Yoan Lopez signals the Diamondbacks‘ new emphasis on the Latin American market, according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. “I do think it’s an area we can impact and continue to get better and grow,” said Arizona’s Senior Vice President De Jon Watson. “It subsidizes your amateur draft. If you’re able to churn out players from the Latin American market, it definitely gives you strength in volume.

Rockies To Sign John Axford To Minor League Deal

2:53pm: MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports that if Axford makes the Major League roster, he will earn a $2.6MM base salary (Twitter link). That’s a fairly significant base salary for a minor league deal and likely explains why Axford was willing to take a non-guaranteed contract. I’d imagine that so long as Axford remains healthy, he’s a good bet to make the roster, and that guarantee may be larger than some big league deals he discussed with other clubs.

Additionally, per Harding, Axford can earn $1.5MM worth of incentives, meaning his deal can max out at $4.1MM.

2:22pm: The Rockies are in agreement with right-hander John Axford on a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, per the team’s transactions page. Axford is a client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council.

Axford, 32 in April, began the 2014 season closing games for the Indians but quickly ceded the job to standout Cody Allen, who took hold of the ninth-inning reins and never looked back. Things weren’t so rosy for Axford, who issued far too many walks and eventually was traded to the Pirates after an August waiver claim. Axford showed slightly better control in Pittsburgh than in Cleveland, and overall the former Brewers stopper pitched to a 3.95 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 5.9 BB/9 and a 53.6 percent ground-ball rate.

While the control numbers are clearly troublesome, Axford’s increase in ground-ball rate would play well in Colorado if he can limit his walks, and he’s never had a problem racking up strikeouts. As I noted earlier this morning, Axford sports (or rather, sported) the best velocity of any remaining free agent reliever, so there’s certainly some upside on this deal.

LaTroy Hawkins figures to man the ninth inning in Denver in what will be his final season, but it’s not out of the question to think that Axford could be in the mix to pick up some saves as well. It’s possible, even, that some ninth-inning work was dangled as an incentive to get him to agree to pitch half of his innings in the hitters’ haven that is Coors Field.


Pitching Notes: Johan, Shields, Twins

Most of the meat left on the free agent bone belongs to the pitching segment of the market. Indeed, five of the seven players who I listed this morning as intriguing free agents were right-handed pitchers.

Here’s the latest on some arms from around the league:

  • There was more cloudy news out of Venezuela regarding Johan Santana‘s comeback attempt, as his agent tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports that he will not attempt to pitch again in the winter league. (Twitter links.) Santana may still aim to take a mound for scouts, but any such plans are “unclear” at this point.
  • The Angels are still not interested in chasing James Shields, even if his price may have dropped somewhat, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
  • For their part, the Twins have no intentions of going after free agent righties John Axford and Alexi Ogando, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune tweets. As he notes, the market has several attractive right-handed relief arms, though it is not clear whether Minnesota has any interest in adding to its pen. Both Axford and Ogando made my list of interesting players to watch. I consider the pair to be among the remaining free agents who could either break out or break down in 2015.