The Blue Jays have released reliever John Axford, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet tweets. Additionally, reliever Bud Norris didn’t make the Jays’ roster, per Davidi, but they have given him a $100K retention bonus to stay in the fold.
Axford, whom the Blue Jays signed to a minor league contract in February, had been battling for a season-opening bullpen spot in spring training. But the 35-year-old Axford suffered a stress reaction in his pitching elbow this week, thus taking him out of the mix. It’s possible he’ll return to the Blue Jays in short order, though, as Davidi suggests they may have released Axford simply to rework his contract.
Toronto’s quite familiar with Axford, a native of Canada who spent the first few months of 2018 with the Blue Jays before they sent him to the Dodgers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Between the two teams last year, Axford tossed 54 2/3 innings and posted an ugly 5.27 ERA with 8.89 K/9 and 3.62 BB/9. Most of the damage came during Axford’s short stint in LA, where he managed just 3 2/3 innings on account of a fractured fibula.
As an Article XX(B) free agent, the Jays had to place Norris on their 25-man roster, pay him $100K to stay on as a minor leaguer or send him back to the open market, where he languished until March 1. Surprisingly, Norris has to settle for a minors deal after performing well last year with the Cardinals, with whom he notched 57 2/3 innings and logged a 3.59 ERA with 10.46 K/9, 3.28 BB/9 and 28 saves in 33 attempts. Norris looked like a good bet to win a roster spot with the Jays after signing with them, but forearm fatigue has slowed him of late. The 34-year-old won’t be in Toronto from the outset of the season, then, though it’s possible he’ll join its bullpen sometime in the coming weeks.
hmm, did not know a retention bonus was a thing. you learn something new here every day.
Definitely not every but yea.
Yes, you actually do learn something new here everyday. Did you know that John Axford was released yesterday? Or that Ian Happ was to be optioned?
No one likes you for various reasons.
Blue Jays are a classy organization.
“Braves sign John Axford to minor league deal”
AX: I’ve made $24 million in my career, I’m going to check out other teams.
JAYS: Here’s $100K to hang out for a while.
AX: Oooh, shiny.
Always been impressed with his high 90s heater. Throws pretty consistently 95-97 MPH. But I know that’s not all it takes to be a big leaguer. I hope he finds a job with a team that needs bullpen depth later in the season when he’s healthy.
Hopefully Axford gets healthy, goes to Buffalo, helps the young pitchers and performs. That’s where he should be, for him and the organization.
Have to give these aging arms credit; really tough to maintain the same stuff year in and year out, and then attempt comeback after comeback when you get injured or battered around. Credit to Axford for being hungry despite setbacks.