The St. Louis Cardinals non-tendered right-handed reliever John Axford earlier tonight and one has to wonder if a reunion with the Milwaukee Brewers is possible. Axford spent his entire career, except for a couple months in 2013, with the Brewers so who knows what might happen.
Axford, 30, was traded to the Cardinals from the Brewers at the end of August for reliever Michael Blazek. In St. Louis, Axford was effective out of the bullpen, posting a 1.73 ERA in 10.1 innings (13 appearances) with a K/9 of 9.6 and a BB/9 of 3.67. Just this past postseason, Axford would pitch in his first World Series, but the Cardinals would ultimately lose to the Boston Red Sox in six games.
During the last bit of his time in Milwaukee this past year, Axford was roughed up for a third straight year, sporting a 4.45 ERA in 54.2 innings and saw a slight rise in his HR/9 from 1.3 to 1.6. One of the biggest hurdles Axford ran into, especially in his 35 save season in 2011, were batters tagging the long-ball off of him which accounted for his high rise in ERA.
Despite the 4.02 ERA overall in 2013, Axford posted an xFIP of 3.56 and 79.3 percent of the runners he faced were left on base, which was his highest percentage since 2011. Axford seemed to look like his old self in St. Louis, but he also had his nice stretches in Milwaukee that were dominant, such as almost going two months this season (mid-May to mid-July) without giving up a run.
A reunion with the Brewers might be nice, considering their bullpen could use another arm with Mike Gonzalez and Burke Badenhop gone. However, Axford is projected to earn $5.7 million in 2014, which would put the Brewers out of contention for him. It’s a bit surprising that St. Louis non-tendered him, so we will have to wait and see where he goes.