Brewers avoid arby with deals for Axford, Estrada, Badenhop | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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The Brewers were supposed to swap salary figures with their three remaining arbitration-eligible players at noon today. Instead, they just signed them all. That’s what you call efficiency.

A day after avoiding arbitration with Carlos Gomez, the Brewers reached deals with John Axford, Marco Estrada and Burke Badenhop today:

Axford’s case could have been a lot trickier than it turned out to be. A first-time arby-eligible player, he’s coming off a rocky season in which he blew nine saves and lost his closer job before getting it back (and getting much better results) by the end of the year. But for first-time arby guys, the case is more about what they’ve done over the past three years than it is about what happened the previous season.

The Brewers could have cited his struggles with command and demotion last season to support their case, but Axford could have easily pointed to his 105 saves — the sort of thing that still matters in arbitration cases — and said that total is the 4th-highest in the majors over the past three years. Axford could have even said he’d likely have the *most* saves from 2010-2012 if Ron Roenicke never replaced him, considering Jose Valverde led MLB with 110 saves in that time (others ahead of Axford: Heath Bell with 109, Jonathan Papelbon with 106).

Just for the sake of comparison, Papelbon compiled 113 saves his three pre-arby years from 2006 to 2008. In his first year as an arbitration-eligible player, Papelbon avoided a hearing by signing a one-year, $6.25 million deal. Considering age and volatility, Axford’s $5 million seems to fall in line reasonably well.

Estrada is coming off a very solid season in which he put up a 3.35 FIP in 138.1 innings. For the first time in his career, he’ll enter spring training with a spot in the starting rotation virtually guaranteed. FanGraphs had Estrada worth 2.7 WAR last season, and his K/9 of 9.3 was second-highest on the team. It’s been an eventful couple of days for the right-hander, as he was named to Team Mexico’s provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic yesterday.

Badenhop figures to be a big part of the Brewers’ new-look bullpen. The Brewers traded for the right-handed sinkerballer on December 1st, essentially to replace Kameron Loe as the bullpen’s groundball specialist. Badenhop carries a career GB% of 55.3. This “new” version of Loe will likely save the Brewers close to $1 million — the “old” Loe earned $2.175 million last year, and probably would have approached $2.5 million this winter if the Brewers didn’t cut him loose.

With arbitration averted, the Brewers’ 2013 payroll figures to be somewhere around $75 million at the moment.

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