Oct 11, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher John Axford throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 11th inning in game one of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

RUMORS: Chicago Cubs interested in reliever John Axford

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The Chicago Cubs are seriously considering signing the ex-Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals reliever John Axford, according to CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

There’s mutual interest between the Cubs and Axford, according to sources familiar with the situation, as Theo Epstein’s front office heads into next week’s winter meetings hoping to upgrade the bullpen and bench while adding another starting pitcher and outfielder. Who’s the closer? Epstein said he probably won’t be able to answer that question until the offseason’s over. But Axford is one of the names the Cubs are considering for the ninth inning.

The Cubs are looking for a closer and Axford has publicly announced via his personal Twitter account he is available.

The right-hander will be a hot commodity at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. during Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Axford, 30, was non-tendered by the Cardinals on Monday evening and is under club control through the 2016 season. His agent, Dan Hortwits of Beverly Hills Sports Council, told sportsnet.ca 14 teams are interested in his client.

After being picked up off waivers in September by St. Louis he posted a 1.93 ERA, 1.355 WHIP in 10 1/3 innings including six playoff games. In 2011, Axford led the National League with 46 saves for the Brewers en route to a 96 win season and NL Central title. For his five-year career, Axford has posted a 3.29 ERA, 1.326 WHIP, and 106 saves.

Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, has addressed the closer role for the Cubs.

This tweets appears to indicate he is leaning toward having Pedro Strop being the closer. Strop, also a righty, appeared in 66 games, going 2-5 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 2013.

“It’s always better to just find talent that hasn’t been given the opportunity yet in the ninth inning,” Epstein said, “and then give them that responsibility and let them add to their market value, whether it’s through trade or for a future contract. (But) just because a guy has saves on his resume and therefore might cost a little more, he still might be a nice option – as long as you’re making sure you’re paying for talent and not just for a stat that (Chicago baseball writer) Jerome Holtzman made up.”

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