After considering some in-house options, the Cleveland Indians may have found their new closer on the outside.
Free agent John Axford, who had 46 saves for Milwaukee in 2011 but has struggled the past two seasons, has agreed to terms on a contract with the Indians, pending a physical. Axford, a resident of Ancaster, Ont., is expected to undergo a medical exam early this week.
If there are no issues, Axford will close for the Indians in 2014, replacing Chris Perez, who was released on Oct. 31.
Cleveland initially considered moving either reliever Bryan Shaw or Cody Allen into the closer's spot, but at last week's winter meetings manager Terry Francona said he preferred to keep the two reliable right-handers in their setup roles.
The 30-year-old Axford lost his closer's job last year with the Brewers and was traded to St. Louis in August. He blew six save chances in 62 games last season with the Brewers before they dealt him to the Cardinals, who used him in a late-inning role.
Axford had a 1.74 earned-run average in 13 games for St. Louis.
The six-foot-five right-hander had his best season in 2011, when he went 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA and 46 saves in 74 appearances. Axford had 106 saves in five seasons with the Brewers. He has a 1.42 ERA in 12 post-season appearances.
In addition to Axford, the Indians showed interest in free agents Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney.
Cleveland's bullpen has been in flux this off-season. The club released Perez, a two-time all-star, following a turbulent 2013 season. Cleveland lost valuable right-hander Joe Smith, who signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
Indians ink Marcum to minor-league deal
The Indians have signed free agent pitcher Shaun Marcum to a minor league contract.
The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where the 32-year-old right-hander will get a chance to compete for a job in Cleveland's starting rotation. Marcum would receive a $1 million salary if he's added to the 40-man roster, and he can earn another $3 million in bonuses.
Marcum, who has a 58-46 career record in the majors, was limited to 14 games — 12 starts — this year for the New York Mets before he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. He went 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA before having the operation in July.
Marcum has also pitched for Toronto (2005-10) and Milwaukee (2011-12). He was selected by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 2003 June draft. He pitched more than 150 innings in four of five seasons from 2007-11.
Ellis on to Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals signed free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis to a one-year, $5.25 million US contract, giving them insurance for rookie Kolten Wong.
In a conference call after the deal was announced Monday, the 36-year-old Ellis said he had some multiyear offers but chose the Cardinals because he wants to win a World Series. Ellis played for the Dodgers in the NL championship series last fall against St. Louis, which won the Series in 2011 and lost in six games to the Red Sox in 2013.
"I am fully fine with one-year deals at this point in my career," Ellis said. "There were some good opportunities, very good teams and very good organizations. I felt like this was the perfect place for myself and my family."
The contract calls for an additional $125,000 at 250 plate appearances and for every 25 plate appearances after that up to 475 plate appearances.
Braves add Gavin Floyd on 1-year deal
The Braves added a needed veteran for their rotation Monday when they agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract with right-hander Gavin Floyd.
Now the question is when Floyd will be ready to pitch.
Floyd, 30, is recovering from surgery in May to repair the ulnar collateral ligament and a torn flexor muscle in his right elbow. That ended his seventh season with the White Sox.
He passed a physical in Atlanta on Monday before completing the deal, which also includes roster and performance bonuses.
Floyd said his arm "feels tremendous."
"It's nice to start over, create the right mechanics ... all the simple things to become more natural," he said.
Atlanta also avoided arbitration with pitcher Brandon Beachy, agreeing to a $1.45 million, one-year deal. He would earn a $25,000 bonus for 30 starts.
Logan, Rockies complete 3-year pact
Boone Logan and the Colorado Rockies completed their $16.5 million, three-year deal on Monday.
The left-handed reliever has spent the last four seasons with the New York Yankees. He was 5-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 2013.
Logan will make $4.75 million next year, $5.5 million in '15 and then $6.25 million in '16.
The 29-year-old Logan is a big addition for a Colorado bullpen that had an NL-worst 4.23 ERA last season. The team also added reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who is expected to compete for the closer's job.
To make room for Logan on the 40-man roster, the team designed right-hander Collin McHugh for assignment. McHugh appeared in seven games last season with the Rockies and New York Mets, going 0-4 with a 10.04 ERA.
Royals finalize Infante deal
The Kansas City Royals filled the most glaring hole in their roster Monday night when they finalized a $30.25 million, four-year deal with Omar Infante to become their primary second baseman.
The agreement, which includes a club option for 2018, was reached last Friday. Infante will be introduced during a news conference Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.
The notoriously frugal Royals have been aggressive this off-season after posting their best record in more than two decades at 86-76. They already have signed left-hander Jason Vargas to a $32 million, four-year contract and traded reliever Will Smith to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Norichika Aoki.