Brewers sticking with closer John Axford after rough start

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Brewers closer John Axford is off to a rough start, allowing three homers and a total of six hits in 11 plate appearances while working with decreased velocity.

Axford says he feels fine physically and Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes that the Brewers are unlikely to make any quick decisions about removing him as closer, but manager Ron Roenicke did sound a little worried when he said the right-hander’s velocity “was way down, so we’ll talk to him and see how he’s doing.”

McCalvy reports that Jim Henderson would be “Plan B” for the Brewers after racking up 45 strikeouts in 31 innings as a 29-year-old rookie last season, but it’s worth noting that Axford went through a rough patch last year–even losing the closer job briefly–and bounced back to convert 17 of his final 18 save chances with 30 strikeouts in 19 innings after mid-August.

A.J. Pollock may be the Dodgers’ next free agent target

A.J. Pollock
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Free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock has landed on the Dodgers’ radar, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal says the two appear to be in discussions regarding a deal for 2019. Terms of any prospective deal have not been released, but interest is presumed to be fairly high as he checks two boxes on their wish list: that of a right-handed hitter and an experienced centerfielder.

Pollock, 31, rounded out a seven-year career with the Diamondbacks in 2018. While he was sidelined for nearly seven weeks after fracturing his left thumb on a dive gone wrong, he finished the season batting a hearty .257/.316/.484 with a career-best 21 home runs, 13 steals (in 15 chances), and 2.5 fWAR across 460 plate appearances. He received a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the club at the end of the year and elected to enter free agency in hopes of a better deal, which some have estimated at five years and $80 million.

So far, it’s not clear whether teams are willing to meet those terms. Pollock profiles as both a solid hitter and defender, but he hasn’t played a season in full health since 2015, which may be a deal-breaker for those in search of long-term talent. Even with that caveat, however, the Dodgers are far from the only club willing to enter negotiations with the outfielder this winter. The Braves have been linked to Pollock since December, and the Mets and Reds have expressed varying levels of interest as well.