No, the time machine has not been invented. You’re not in the Twilight Zone, you’re not in an alternate universe. The year is 2021 and the Milwaukee Brewers have John Axford on their roster again.
Last donning a Brewers uniform in 2013, Axford has bounced around the league the last couple of years. The native Canadian last pitched in the big leagues in 2018 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He did not ever again achieve the success he had achieved during his prime years with the Milwaukee Brewers.
But he’s back once again, with perhaps the hope that he can find the magic he once had in a Brewers uniform once again. Obviously that won’t be the expectation, but it’s worth a shot, right?
Why and how were the Milwaukee Brewers able to acquire John Axford after the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline passed?
While the hard Trade Deadline did pass the other day, players on minor league contracts are still able to be traded. Axford signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays earlier this year. Toronto had not called him up and he was not on their 40 man roster, meaning he was still eligible to be traded.
The Brewers announced the trade early on Monday. Cash considerations will head back to the Blue Jays, but it’s unlikely it’s any sort of substantial amount of cash.
As for why they did this trade, that gets a little more interesting. The Brewers have several players currently on the Covid IL, including a bunch from their bullpen. Jake Cousins, Jandel Gustave, and Hunter Strickland are all unavailable for the next week to ten days. In the short term, Axford could help plug that gap.
However, he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues in three years, and it’s unclear just exactly what he still has left in the tank. Axford is 38 years old. He’s played in parts of 10 big league seasons, and this will now be season 11 for him as the Brewers are adding him to the 40 man roster and activating him in time for Monday’s game.
Axford recorded 24 saves for the Brewers in 2010 as he took over the closer’s role from then future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, learning from one of the best to ever do it. Then in 2011 he recorded 46 saves and his first 41 of the season in a row en route to a division title, and then recorded 35 saves in 2012 as his command went awry and his dominance faded.
Axford may only be here for a week, or he may be here for the rest of the season, but the Brewers are adding an old friend and the franchise leader in saves.
Now if they could add Ryan Braun back next, that would complete the reunification of the 2011 Brewers NL Central winning roster.
This is an off the radar move, even for Stearns, but it’s someone the organization is familiar with and should be fun for the fans at the very least.