Brewers make post-deadline trade with Blue Jays, add reliever John Axford for $1

The Brewers made a post-trade-deadline deal with the Blue Jays to acquire veteran reliever John Axford and bolster their bullpen. The move was allowed because Axford wasn’t on Toronto’s 40-man roster, so the Brewers took advantage of his availability to get quality, experienced bullpen help cheap.

Really cheap. It cost them only $1 to make the trade, according to The Associated Press. Seriously.

One-dollar deals happen from time to time in MLB. In fact, one occurred earlier in 2021, when the Mets acquired Cameron Maybin from the Cubs for that price. And for the Brewers, in particular, they’re nothing new.

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The Axford trade also marks the third time since 2011 that the Brewers have been involved in acquiring or trading a player for $1. In 2011, the Brewers acquired catcher Wil Nieves from the Braves for just a buck. He posted a slash line of .140/.189/.180 in 20 games played for Milwaukee.

In 2014, Milwaukee traded pitcher Brad Mills to the A’s for $1. Mills had been playing for the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds, but they didn’t have a spot for him on the major league roster. As such, he was traded and put up a 4.41 ERA with 14 strikeouts in three starts (16 1/3 innings) with Oakland.

Now, the Brewers will hope the 38-year-old Axford can become the best of their three, one-dollar deals. He was once a quality closer and led MLB with 46 saves during the 2011 season. He posted a 1.95 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings while playing in Milwaukee that season.

Axford had started the season working as a studio analyst for Blue Jays coverage and hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2018. He posted some nice numbers in a nine-game stint with the Buffalo Bisons including a 0.84 ERA and .061 opposing batting average with 14 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. He hit 98 mph during his road back to the majors as well.

Unfortunately, Axford’s first game with the Brewers didn’t go as planned. He faced five batters and only recorded one out while allowing two earned runs. He left the game with an elbow injury, and Brewers manager Craig Counsell spoke about the “unfortunate” situation.

“It’s not the way you want it to go,” Counsell said after Milwaukee’s 6-2 victory over the Pirates, per ESPN. “It’s unfortunate. The fact that he got himself back here was a real credit to him. You want the story to be good every night. Sometimes there’s some unfortunate stories as well.”

The Brewers will wait to see the extent of the injury. They’ll hope he can bounce back. But if not, they didn’t risk anything to acquire him.

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