Blue Jays: Free agent bullpen targets with closer’s experience

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Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

RHP John Axford (32)
2015: 55.2 IP, 4.20 ERA, 10.0 K/9

It wouldn’t be an MLB offseason at Jays Journal without me tossing John Axford’s name into the conversation, but that’s getting more difficult to do with a straight face. The Ontario native kept his K/9 respectable and ERA out of the stratosphere in 2015, but with a 1.581 WHIP and 5.2 walks per nine innings, it could have been much worse.

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Still, Axford managed to post a 0.6 FanGraphs WAR, his highest total since back-to-back 1.9-WAR seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010 and 2011. Following the trend of affordable arms with closer’s experience, Axford has run into some serious walls since his career peak several seasons ago. He is unique, however, in the fact that he recorded 25 saves for the Rockies in 2015. The quality of those saves is wholly debatable, of course, but I digress.

I strongly considered leaving Axford out of this one altogether, but the Shapiro link brought me back around. The Cleveland Indians signed Axford to a one-year, $4.5 million entering the 2014 season where he posted a 3.92 ERA over 43.2 innings. Nothing breathtaking, but a front office involving Mark Shapiro has looked at Axford in the not-so-distant past and thought “Hey, not a terrible idea.”

His velocity remains as strong as ever, and if Axford can regain the value of his inconsistent slider, maybe there’s something to be found. He’s awfully familiar with a BB/9 above 5.0 though, do the Blue Jays want that on the mound in the seventh and eighth innings?

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