Axford led the National League in saves in 2011, when he saved 46 games in 74 games and 73 2/3 innings, and came in with a 1.95 ERA.
Over a three-year stretch, from 2010 through 2012, Axford saved 105 ballgames for the Brewers before losing his role at the beginning of 2013 after struggling in 2012, and at the start of 2013.
Axford had been removed as Milwaukee’s closer in July of 2012, but was later reinstated, and saved 17 of his final 18 save opportunities that season.
He started the 2013 season back as the Brewers closer, but gave up nine earned runs on four homers during the first four ballgames, and was immediately removed from the ninth-inning job.
In a set-up role, he pitched much better, dropping his ERA from 24.30 on April 9th, to a low of 3.38 on July 28th, before seeing it rise to 4.45 a month later, when he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for a player to be named later.
Axford gave up three runs in his first three games with the Cardinals, but wouldn’t give up another run over his next nine games.
Is Axford the perfect solution?
The key will be what the Indians have offered Axford, who made $5 million last season with the Cardinals. In Axford, the Indians could be getting a similar player to Chris Perez, but with a lot less money involved, and a lot more control.
His velocity is still above 95, so there really isn’t a whole lot of risk involved in this point at making Axford a low risk offer.
What would I offer Axford? I know some folks with argue that he should get more, but I wouldn’t go over $3 million a year. The Indians would then gain control of Axford through the 2017 season, as he would be an arbitration eligible player.
The Indians may up the deal for Axford based on Terry Francona‘s statements today that he wanted to keep the current bullpen in the rolls that they are familiar with, meaning that Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw would stay away from the ninth inning and be used in high leverage situations anywhere from the sixth through the eighth innings.
If that’s the case, then Axford is the perfect ninth inning guy for the pen. He certainly wouldn’t be the best reliever, but he has upside, and could give the Indians incredible value if they get him at the right price.
Seriously, who am I to argue with Terry Francona?