Axford deal is done pending physical, Marcum signed
The Indians and right-handed closer John Axford are set to sign a one year $4.5 million deal that will include an additional $1.75 million in incentives based on games finished. He is expected to undergo a physical on Wednesday after which the deal will be formally announced provided he passes it.
Axford, 30, appeared in 75 games between the Brewers and Cardinals last season and did not record a save and compiled a 4.02 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9 and 9.0 K/9. He has closer’s experience as he has 106 in his career and had a sensational year in 2011 when he racked up a 1.95 ERA and 46 saves, but he has been very inconsistent the last two years and lost his closer’s job after many blown saves. In his five year career he has appeared in 281 games and has a 3.29 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9 and 10.8 K/9.
The contract is just for one year, but the Indians do control Axford through the 2016 season provided they offer him arbitration. If he has a good season, it is very possible the organization offers him arbitration and he at least returns to the club for the 2015 season. He was up for his second year of salary arbitration this year (he was a Super 2 in 2013) and his pay scale is following the same path of former Indians closer Chris Perez. In Perez's first arbitration year (not Super 2) in 2012 he earned $4.5 million just like Axford will this season. In his second arbitration year Perez earned $7.3 million (2013), a number Axford would probably be projected at or close to in 2015 if he has a good season in 2014.
In other news, the Indians have signed right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training. He will earn $1 million if he makes the Indians 25-man opening day roster and can earn an additional $3 million in incentives. He has an opt out clause in his contract where he can request his release if he does not make the opening day roster.
Marcum, 31, has had a solid career but has struggled with injuries the last two years making 21 starts in 2012 with the Brewers (7-4, 3.70 ERA) and 12 starts with the Mets last season (1-10, 5.29 ERA). He is recovering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery and will need to show he is healthy and effective this spring to make the major league roster.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.
Would still prefer to get a guy like Samardjiza to be in the #2 spot in the rotation than banking on one of Marcum, Carrasco, Tomlin, or Bauer to step up and fill the 5th spot (though think one can).
Other than that, he should be fine.