John Axford

Not since his first few seasons in Milwaukee when he was an elite closer has John Axford pitched as well as he has this year.

This past off-season when so many ball clubs were breaking the bank on their bullpen, I couldn’t help but think what a waste of money.

Major League Baseball is such a copycat league it’s almost embarrassing that these big league executives don’t have the smarts and understanding for the game to actually think for themselves.  And since having a stacked bullpen is what’s in vogue these days, many teams are going above and beyond when it comes to acquiring who they think the best relievers are.

Thank goodness not all teams feel it’s necessary to be spending big money when building their bullpen.  One of those teams being the Toronto Blue Jays.

This off-season, the Blue Jays went out and signed Tyler Clippard, Seung-hwan Oh, and John Axford.  Three veteran relievers with a combined age of 34.3 and an ERA of 1.79 on the season.  The combined salaries of these three pitchers in 2018 is $4,750,000.  As reasonable as the contracts for Clippard, Oh, and Axford are, their performance is made even more impressive when comparing their statistics to what some of the highest earning free agent relievers received this past off-season.

So many players and agents were up in arms this winter when a good number of the most talented free agents had yet to sign.  Some of them even stooped so low as to accuse teams of collusion.  There’s a reason why ball clubs are hesitant to spend big money on free agents these days, and it’s not collusion.  It’s because the highest paid free agents are overrated and often well past their prime.

What’s even more amazing about Clippard and Axford, is that they were non-roster invitees with no guarantee of even making the Blue Jays out of spring training.  If they were going to make the Blue Jays, they’d have to earn their spot by proving they were one of Toronto’s top seven relief pitchers.  In this day in age when so many other teams are copying what the others are doing, I’m glad the Blue Jays front office is at least open to thinking outside the box.

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