John Axford was non-tendered by the Cardinals earlier this month, but the 30-year-old right-hander won’t have trouble finding a new place to pitch.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs, Orioles and Mariners have all expressed interest in Axford since the Cardinals let him go. And those teams may even offer him the opportunity to close.
Axford has registered a pedestrian 4.35 ERA in 134 1/3 innings since the start of the 2012 season, but he was one of the most dominant ninth inning men in baseball in 2011 and he still possesses a high-90s fastball. He posted a 1.74 ERA in 13 appearances this year for St. Louis after being acquired from the Brewers in a late-season trade, showing signs of a turnaround. The Cardinals non-tendered him because he was due a raise over the $5 million salary he made in 2013 — his first year of arbitration eligibility.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the Mariners have acquired starter Chris Heston from the Giants. The Giants will receive a player to be named later, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
Heston, 28, logged only five innings in the majors this past season as he battled an oblique injury and otherwise spent most of his time with Triple-A Sacramento. Heston was solid out of the Giants’ rotation in 2015, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 141/64 K/BB ratio in 177 2/3 innings over 31 starts.
Heston will be under team control through 2021. He’ll provide depth for the Mariners’ rotation in the meantime.
Joe Nathan‘s agent, David Pepe, says his client wants to pitch in 2017, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” Pepe said.
Nathan, 42, came back from Tommy John surgery in July, pitching two scoreless innings for the Cubs with four strikeouts and two walks. The Cubs released him and the Giants picked him up, and Nathan went on to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch with five strikeouts and two walks.
According to FanGraphs, Nathan’s velocity wasn’t where it used to be, which is to be expected of a pitcher in his 40’s coming back from major elbow surgery. Still, with teams always on the hunt for bullpen depth, it would be shocking if Nathan didn’t get any bites before spring training starts.