About a month ago, Indians manager Terry Francona took John Axford out of the closer’s role after the right-hander had compiled a 4.91 ERA in 14 2/3 innings while blowing two saves and losing three games. Since then, the Indians have used Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison, and Mark Rzepczynski to nail down saves and it’s been working out well.
As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports, however, Francona would like to see Axford back in the closer’s role eventually even though his current corps of hurlers are getting the job done. Since his demotion into lower-leverage innings, Axford has a 1.08 ERA with 11 strikeouts and four walks in 8 1/3 innings.
George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner are back together on a one-year, $12.5 million contract. The deal includes a second year option worth $20 million.
Gardner, 36, is coming off of the strongest offensive season of his career, batting .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs, 74 RBI, 86 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases over 550 plate appearances. While he has certainly lost a step or two with age, he still rates as an above-average defensive corner outfielder as well.
As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, the Yankees also value Gardner — a veteran of 12 seasons — for his leadership, especially with CC Sabathia and Didi Gregorius gone.
Bringing Gardner back into the fold allows Giancarlo Stanton to remain the full-time DH. Gardner will return to left field with Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge reprising their roles in center and right, respectively.