Brewers negotiating long-term deal with closer John Axford

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It’s probably not coming this week, but the Brewers could soon have closer John Axford locked up through his arbitration years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Assistant GM Gord Ash said the two sides have been negotiating since Axford reported to spring training, and while a deal isn’t close yet, progress has been made.

Says Ash:

All of the conversations have been very pleasant. I don’t want to get into too much detail because we don’t negotiate through the press, but the game plan is to get this one year in place and then take the balance of spring training to talk (about a multi-year deal).

Barring a trip back to the minors, Axford will be eligible for arbitration as a super-two player after this season. He didn’t spend all of 2010 in the majors, so he won’t be a free agent until after 2016.

Axford tied for the NL lead with 46 saves in 48 opportunities last season. He had a 1.95 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings.

Yadier Molina responds to Willson Contreras on Instagram

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On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”

Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.

Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.

Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.