John Axford
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John Axford would like to sign with the Blue Jays

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Free agent reliever John Axford is angling for a job with the Blue Jays. The right-hander said Saturday that he is willing and eager to step into a mentoring role with the team and intends to approach Toronto brass about the possibility of a 2019 return (via Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca).

The 35-year-old Axford pitched the majority of his 2018 season with the Blue Jays, racking up a 4.41 ERA, 3.5 BB/9, and 8.8 SO/9 through 51 innings pitched. He was dealt to the Dodgers at the deadline for minor league right-hander Corey Copping, however, and tossed just 3 2/3 innings over the last third of the season.

It remains to be seen whether the Blue Jays would be receptive to a reunion. Even if they are, Nicholson-Smith points out that the club could trade Axford away again — a possibility the reliever seemed to acknowledge in his comments. Complicating matters is the matter of the right-hander’s health, as the last two seasons have yielded the least amount of fWAR in his career to date after he missed significant time with a shoulder strain and fractured fibula. Whether or not he remains healthy in 2019, Axford may yet make good on his promise to provide veteran leadership to the Blue Jays’ young core. For now, though, the ball rests in the Blue Jays’ court.

Report: Astros, Alex Bregman agree to five-year, $100 million extension

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Fox 26’s Mark Berman reports that the Astros and third baseman Alex Bregman have agreed to $100 million contract extension. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart confirms a deal has been reached and adds that the deal is actually for five years, beginning after the 2019 season. The contract will cover all three of Bregman’s arbitration years and two years of would-be free agency.

Bregman, who turns 25 years old later this month, has quickly become one of the best third basemen in baseball. Across parts of three seasons, he has hit .282/.366/.500 with 58 home runs, 208 RBI, 224 runs scored, and 29 stolen bases. FanGraphs credited him with 7.6 Wins Above Replacement, tied with Francisco Lindor and Christian Yelich for the fourth-best mark among position players in baseball, trailing only Mookie Betts (10.4), Mike Trout (9.8), and José Ramírez (8.0).

This is obviously a smart move for the Astros, as this contract extension will secure Bregman’s age 25-30 seasons. With second baseman José Altuve also locked up through 2024, and presumed extensions to come for Carlos Correa and possibly Gerrit Cole and George Springer, the Astros have a core that they can build around for years to come.