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: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.