Kevin Kouzmanoff outrighted by Rockies, picks free agency

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Kevin Kouzmanoff’s struggles offensively continued after being traded from Oakland to Colorado in mid-August, leading to the Rockies dropping the veteran third baseman from the 40-man roster and Kouzmanoff opting for free agency.

That was mostly just a timing issue anyway, because Kouzmanoff would have been in line for a $5 million salary via the arbitration process and there was never any chance of a team making that commitment to a guy who failed to crack a .700 OPS in back-to-back seasons.

Kouzmanoff’s stock has fallen to the point that he may have to settle for a bench job or perhaps even a minor-league contract. Any promise he showed by hitting .275 with 18 homers and a .786 OPS as a 25-year-old rookie with the Padres in 2007 has given way to four straight underwhelming seasons and Kouzmanoff is already 30 years old.

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.