The Braves are leaving Turner Field after the 2016 season

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The Marietta Daily Journal reports — and the Braves have since confirmed — that they are moving to a new, suburban ballpark after the 2016 season. The new park will be in Cobb County, near the intersection of I-75 and I-285. The move is occasioned by the end their 20 year lease agreement for Turner Field, which expires at the end of the 2016 season.

This move is completely unexpected. Turner Field, which is a retrofit of the Olympic stadium from the 1996 summer games, has only housed the Braves since 1997. There is nothing about it that is obsolete or lacking for baseball. It’s a bit big and the Braves don’t draw as well as teams who have been as successful as they have been should draw, but that speaks to the nature and popularity of baseball in Atlanta — and a bit about Atlanta geography and demographics — not the ballpark.

It is worth noting, however, that the area where this report would have a new Braves ballpark is in the prosperous and growing northern Atlanta suburbs, where a great many Braves fans (and players) reside already. So, while such a move would be against the tide of recent history, a team actually leaving the urban center to move to the burbs would not be as an insane and antiquated notion in Atlanta as it might be in other cities.

It’s possible that the idea of a move is part of a negotiating position in lease discussions between the team and the city. The story notes that the land for the new ballpark is under contract, but that a deal is not yet closed. It is possible that a Cobb County option is the Braves’ ace in the hole, as it were, and they’re getting more bold in playing it.

But with the team confirming all of this? That does seem like more than mere negotiating tactic.

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.