Michael Blazek Rumors
The Brewers shipped out reliever John Axford to the Cardinals at last year's trade deadline, bringing back young righty Michael Blazek. Milwaukee has been impressed with the 25-year-old, with manager Ron Roenicke saying he profiles as a late-inning arm, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentine. Meanwhile, after being non-tendered by the Cards and signed by the Indians, Axford hopes to continue learning from his brief stint in St. Louis. As MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports, his former club informed him that he'd been tipping pitches, and Axford hopes that correction -- along with regained velocity -- will allow him to return to his peak form.
Here are more stray notes from around the game ...
- Another trade deadline mover, Mike Olt of the Cubs, has shown substantial improvement in the eyesight issues that plagued him last year with the Rangers, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. Though his prospect stock has fallen in the meantime, all that matters to Olt is maintaining his health. "As long as I'm healthy," he said, "I know that I can do what I was capable of."
- Reliever Jason Frasor explained that he elected to re-sign with the Rangers for the simple reason that he likes playing for the club, reports Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. "Free agency isn't that great for middle relievers," he said. "I never wanted to be the kind of guy that bounced around from team to team as middle relievers often do with one-year deals. I found a place I really, really liked. ... I think I was the first [free agent] to sign [this offseason]. I just didn't feel it was worth it to try to scrape out maybe a little better contract ... ."
- One free agent who faces a much more open-ended market is former ace Johan Santana. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, Santana has fielded interest from at least three American League clubs. The 34-year-old is hoping to be ready to take the mound in a big league game in June.
- The Rays' roster battle features several situations where options will play a role, reports Bill Chastain of MLB.com. Among the players who must make the active roster or face a DFA are Chris Archer, Josh Lueke, Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, Brandon Guyer, and Matt Joyce.
Twins GM Terry Ryan says he has no qualms about blocking potential August trades by making waiver claims, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes (via Twitter). Ryan says he was surprised that Marlon Byrd -- who's having a strong season and makes a paltry $700K -- made it all the way through waivers until the Pirates claimed him. The Reds, for example, had waiver priority on the Pirates and might well have chosen to claim Byrd, both because Byrd would have cheaply improved their own team and also to prevent the rival Pirates from getting him. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Cardinals are the first big-league team that will have to figure out how to stop Billy Hamilton of the Reds, Max Schmetzer of MLB.com writes. Of course, that means that the basestealing phenom will have to battle against Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. "We have film on [Hamilton]," says Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "We're not going to ask the pitchers to be quicker on him or the catchers to throw quicker." Before the season, Hamilton was ranked the No. 20 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and No. 30 by ESPN's Keith Law. Even in a disappointing 2013 season, Hamilton managed to swipe 75 bases for Triple-A Louisville.
- Reliever Michael Blazek spent several days in "limbo" before being shipped from the Cardinals to the Brewers in the John Axford deal, Adam McCalvy and Kevin Massoth of MLB.com write. The Cards technically optioned Blazek to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday, but he was actually just waiting in his hotel in St. Louis, presumably to be called up when rosters expanded on Sunday. Instead, in his third day away from the team, he learned he was headed to Milwaukee.
- Daniel Bard was recently designated for assignment by the Red Sox, but claiming him on waivers could be a tricky proposition, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. That's because the claiming team would have to decide by early December whether to take Bard to arbitration, where he would receive a minimum of about $1.5MM next year. That might be a lot to pay a player who appears to be nowhere near the pitcher he was in 2009 through 2011, when he was a solid relief option.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.