Rumors are linking Toronto Blue Jays to RP John Axford


The Toronto Blue Jays are beginning to enter the home stretch on the way to Dunedin in February. However with Spring Training report dates getting closer and closer and Blue Jays pitchers and catchers expected to begin workouts on February 23rd, Toronto still has a sizable hole in their bullpen.

Enter Ontario native John Axford.

According to a recent tweet from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams that are actively looking at free agent relief pitcher and former closer John Axford.

While Heyman notes that Axford’s market is heating up, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the right-hander is under high demand either. After all, we’re talking about a reliever that posted a 3.95 ERA with a full-season career-high 5.93 BB/9 ratio against a K/9 of 10.37 in 2014. Even advanced indicators like FIP (4.34), xFIP (3.93), and SIERA 3.73 weren’t particularly found of Axford, who for the second consecutive year was worth less than replacement value (-0.5) and  third consecutive year with a negative Win Probability Added (-1.89).

However, Axford did manage to increase his ground-ball rate (53.6%), reduced his home run-flyball ratio (13.3%) and remains a strike-out machine with a 10.37 K/9 mark. Those are certainly positive trends to build off of.

That said, the Blue Jays are to the point where they may choose to take a flyer on an arm looking to rebuild, especially given the team’s perception of limited available budget. John Axford may not be the optimal answer, as arms like Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano are definitely much more attractive options. However, he does have late inning experience and he certainly fits at at least one mold that the Blue Jays will be looking for; he’ll come cheap.

Oh, and did I mention he was Canadian?