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Indians sign reliever John Axford to one-year, $4.5M deal

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

John Axford may be headed to Cleveland to be the closer next season.
John Axford is headed to Cleveland to be the closer next season. (USATSI)

MORE: FA tracker: position players | FA tracker: pitchers

The Indians have signed free agent relief pitcher John Axford, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reports. The contract is for one year and $4.5 million with the opportunity for Axford to make $1.75 million more in incentives. As previously reported on CBSSports.com, the Indians are aiming for Axford to replace now-departed Chris Perez in the role of the club's closer.

Axford, 30, was a dominant closer for the Brewers in 2011 when they won the NL Central, but he had a rocky 2012 season, during which he was replaced as closer. He struggled again this past season for the Brewers before being traded to the Cardinals.

Once with St. Louis, though, Axford showed some improvement. In 13 outings, he had a 1.74 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. He also made six appearances in the playoffs, putting together a 1.59 ERA with nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

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