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Rockies sign John Axford

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Colorado agreed to a minor league deal with Axford, a strikeout artist who has trouble with walks.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies have signed relief pitcher John Axford to a minor league contract, according to MLB.com's transaction page. Axford will make $2.6 million if he makes the big league roster and could net as much as $4.1 million after incentives, per Thomas Harding.

Axford, 31, posted a 3.94 ERA and struck out 63 batters in 54⅔ innings for the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014. The 6'5 right-hander struggled with walks, though, allowing 36 free passes. Axford racked up 10 saves for the Indians in his first action as a closer since 2012.

For his career, Axford has struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings. He's also walked 4.4 per nine. Those numbers are similar to Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers, who has never really had a problem missing bats but puts too many runners on base by virtue of the free pass.

Adding Axford certainly isn't a bad thing for a Rockies bullpen that at times failed to pick up strikeouts when they needed them last season. He also fits the team's love for ground ball pitchers; Axford induces grounders at a 48 percent clip for his career and was even better than that -- 53.6 percent -- in 2014.

Axford's deal almost certainly will include an invitation to spring training. The Rockies' list of non-roster invitees should be announced within the next day or two.