John Axford signs with the Toronto Blue Jays

by Jason Booth

2002 Team Ontario graduate John Axford has officially signed a minor-league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

This comes after Axford impressed during his appearances at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Qualifier, pitching into the upper 90s at age 38. Axford hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2018 when he tossed 51 innings for the Blue Jays and then closing out the year with the Dodgers.

Axford has been rehabbing from elbow surgery since his 2018 season ended, with the goal of returning to pro baseball at some point, according to his trainer Dianna Moulden.

As he's rehabbed over the past year, Axford spent time covering the Blue Jays on Sportsnet as an analyst, alongside Jamie Campbell or Joe Siddall.

The Blue Jays have been lacking in the bullpen recently and now look to the veteran Axford for some support. Although it's likely he will begin his time with Triple-A Buffalo (in Trenton), it's difficult to see him not making his way up to the big league club at some point in the future.

Axford has been one of Team Ontario's most successful pitchers at the pro level, pitching in parts of ten major league seasons with the Brewers, Cardinals, Indians, Pirates, Rockies, Athletics, Blue Jays and Dodgers. He was named the Rolaids Reliever of the Year back in 2011 when he led the majors with 46 saves and finished the year with an ERA of 1.95.

Axford's story on his way to the big leagues is as resilient as they come... following Tommy John surgery during his college career, the Reds declined to pickup his contract and he returned home to Canada to play summer ball. Axford continues to show his resilience, working his way back from arm surgery at the of 38, chasing another chance to throw in the big leagues.

The Simcoe, Ontario native continues to bring great pride to the Team Ontario program for all he accomplishes in his pro baseball career. We wish John the best of luck in the Blue Jays system and hope to watch him on Sportsnet in the near future, pitching for the big league team.