The Chicago Cubs aren’t likely to make any big moves this offseason in terms of player signings.
They have already inked catcher George Kottaras and reliever Wesley Wright to short-term, team-friendly deals, and more of those can definitively be expected from the front office led by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. One bigger name that needs to be targeted, however, is reliever/former closer John Axford.
Despite Axford’s struggles in recent season, he’s definitively a great fit for the Cubs. He already has a lot of experience pitching in the NL Central after being with the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals; he has been in winning teams and also has playoff experience under his belt.
His career numbers aren’t eye-popping (3.29 career ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 106 saves), but they are very solid, and for an organization that needs a lot of help in the bullpen, Axford could be a great fit. He would certainly be in the closer mix if he’s signed, and if he fails to be the ninth-inning guy, he might end up being a great setup man.
The Cubs are reportedly one of many teams that are in the Axford sweepstakes – his agent Dan Horwits reported that 14 teams expressed interest in his client – and the fact that he’s cost-controlled until 2016 makes him a very appealing target. The group, led by Epstein and Hoyer, needs to act quickly in this one, because Axford could be a decisive addition for a team that desperately needs help in the bullpen.