Source: Cardinals, Dodgers have deal in place for Rafael Furcal

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Update: A source tells our own Craig Calcaterra that the Cardinals and Dodgers have agreed to the particulars in a Furcal deal and that Furcal is leaning toward waiving his no-trade protection to go to St. Louis.

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The shortstop market is barren, but the Cardinals appear interested in taking a chance on the one big name out there; they’re discussing a deal with the Dodgers that could net them Rafael Furcal.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Furcal is open to waiving his no-trade protection and moving on to St. Louis.  The Cardinals are giving usual shortstop Ryan Theriot his first start of the year at second base on Saturday, suggesting that they’re confident a deal is going to get done.

Furcal has had a brutal, injury-plagued season that’s left him with a .197/.272/.248 line in 137 at-bats.  He’s 5-for-8 stealing bases, and he’s scored just 15 runs in 37 games.

Still, there’s hope that Furcal will improve if he stays healthy.  And he has gone 8-for-22 over his last six games, raising his average 32 points.  He certainly has the most upside of any shortstop available.

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.