A’s sign reliever John Axford

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UPDATE: It’s a done deal.

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Oakland’s bullpen overhaul continues, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A’s “are close to signing” free agent right-hander John Axford.

Axford has closing experience, including leading the league with 46 saves for the Brewers in 2011, but he’d likely slot into a middle relief role after the A’s signed Ryan Madson and traded for Liam Hendriks to join Sean Doolittle in the late innings.

Axford spent this past season in Colorado, saving 25 games with a 4.20 ERA and 62/32 K/BB ratio in 56 innings. He’s always thrown hard and missed plenty of bats, but Axford’s effectiveness often depends on managing his shaky control. He walked more than five batters per nine innings in 2014 and 2015.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.