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.

Madison Bumgarner diagnosed with fractured left hand

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Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner sustained a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand on Friday. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, a procedure that could require a four- to six-week recovery period before he’s cleared to throw again. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Bumgarner’s total recovery time is expected to take 6-8 weeks. In a best-case scenario, the lefty said he should be able to pitch again before the All-Star break, but given the amount of time and care it’ll take for him to shoulder a full workload, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to do so.

Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.

The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. Without him, the Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.

This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”