Yankees rejoice: Rays, Crawford end extension talks

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With no agreement in sight, the Rays and Carl Crawford have chosen to halt extension talks until the end of the season, agent Brian Peters told the St. Petersburg Times.
“We had an opportunity to exchange ideas with the club about a contract extension for Carl and it was clear to all of us that an immediate agreement was not going to materialize,” Peters said. “Thus, we all agreed to table discussions until the end of the year.”
Crawford is entering the second and final option year of a deal that’s paid him $33.5 million over six seasons, and barring an agreement prior to the end of the World Series, he’ll become a free agent for the first time at age 29. The speedster has long been viewed as a perfect fit for the Yankees, and it’s been speculated that one of the reasons the Bombers declined to give Johnny Damon a two-year deal this winter was that they had their eyes on Crawford.
That an extension couldn’t be worked out probably won’t put Crawford on the market immediately. The Rays hope to contend this year, and they might have a slight chance of keeping Crawford if they can make it to the postseason for the second time in three years. However, it they fall out of contention early, Crawford’s name will certainly come up at the trade deadline. Since the Rays don’t expect their payroll to expand in 2011 and Crawford is in line for a contract that will pay him $15 million-$18 million per year, it’s pretty unlikely that he’ll remain with the club for the long term.

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.