If you have something to bring to the table when eligible for salary arbitration for the first time in the major leagues, it can be a rewarding experience. Financially rewarding, that is. That certainly was the case for Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford, who agreed Friday to a $5 million contract for 2013, avoiding the need to exchange arbitration figures with the club. It was nearly a 10-fold increase in pay for Axford, who had a $525,000 salary last season. The Brewers also avoided arbitration with their other eligible players, starting pitcher Marco Estrada and reliever Burke Badenhop. Estrada agreed to a $1.955 million salary and Badenhop accepted a $1.55 million contract. With centerfielder Carlos Gomez agreeing to terms the previous day and left-hander Chris Narveson doing so earlier, the Brewers have no worries about possible hearings this year. "The goal is to get these deals done," said Teddy Werner, the club's senior director of business operations. "We're certainly happy to get them done at this date. Now we can move forward and focus on baseball." Those unfamiliar with the arbitration process might have wondered how Axford received such a huge raise after a problematic 2012 season, during which he struggled so badly at one point that he forfeited the closer's role. But players eligible the first time for arbitration are allowed to use their entire body of work in negotiations and Axford was in good stead in that regard. Axford, 29, set a club record in 2011 with 46 saves, converting his last 43 in a row. He compiled a 1.74 ERA in 74 appearances that season, earning National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year. Despite his midseason meltdown last year, Axford recorded 35 saves and finished with a 5-8 record and 4.67 ERA in 75 appearances, with 93 strikeouts in 69 innings. In 206 career relief outings with the Brewers, Axford is 15-12 with a 3.06 ERA and 106 saves.
Brewers avoid salary arbitration with all eligible players
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Jan 19