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.

Donald Trump wants Curt Schilling in the Hall of Fame

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We’ve talked a lot about Curt Schilling’s Hall of Fame candidacy over the years.

Bill has argued that, if voters are going to use the character clause to keep certain players out, they should keep Curt Schilling out. I’ve differed on that, not because I think Schilling is a good person — he’s loathsome, actually — but because I find the character clause to be illegitimate and would never, if I had a vote, use it to impact my vote. So, yes, I’d put Schilling on my ballot if I had one.

I’m not alone in this, of course. At the moment Schilling has support on about 72% of ballots which have been made public. My guess is that he’ll fall a tad short when results are announced tomorrow — non-public ballots tend to include fewer players on them — but we’ll see.

I am not the only non-BBWAA member who would vote for Schilling. He’s got some top level support too. From the President of the United States:

Ballots had to be submitted by December 31, so it’s not like this is gonna have any impact on the vote totals. If it came earlier, though, one wonders if it would. And one wonders if that’d help Schilling or hurt him.