The Dodgers want to reassemble the 2002 Braves

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Bringing in Mark DeRosa and John Smoltz six or seven years ago: a bold move that instantly makes you a favorite.  Bringing them in for 2010: Yawn.  According to Smoltz’s and DeRosa’s agent Keith Grunewald, however, the Dodgers are showing interest in both.

L.A. definitely needs a starter or two, but given his health, his age and his less-than-stellar 2009, a team challenging for the division can’t be in the business of counting on John Smoltz to hold down a rotation slot.  He will almost certainly break down at some point, and even if he doesn’t, he will almost certainly have stretches of ineffectiveness.  And don’t give me that “he looked good down the stretch for the Cardinals” business.  His two good starts after his release from Boston came against the anemic Nats and Padres. He was profoundly ordinary — and hit fairly hard — the rest of the way.

DeRosa remains a useful player, but according to the article, no less than twelve teams want him.  He wants a multi-year deal. L.A. has Casey Blake under contract at third, Rafael Furcal at short, and a loaded outfield.  Maybe De Rosa could play second, but he doesn’t really profile as a starter there anymore. The guy is either a full-time corner player — which the Dodgers don’t need — or a utility player — which the Dodgers don’t need to be giving multi-year contracts.    

The upshot: either of those players would be OK if they fell into the Dodgers’ lap late in the offseason for low dollars, but unless they really think that Rafael Furcal is homesick for his Atlanta days, there’s no reason for L.A. to be out in front of the market on either of them.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.