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.