John Axford would like to sign with the Blue Jays

John Axford
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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.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.