ST. LOUIS — Seeking to stabilize the back end of their bullpen, the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday acquired John Axford from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a player to be named later.
Axford, 30, is 6-7 with a 4.45 ERA. The former closer had a career-high 46 saves for the Brewers in 2011 and 35 in 2012.
"John is a reliever that offers experience as both a setup man and closer," Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said. "He's also a pitcher who brings familiarity with the NL Central, pennant race baseball and the postseason."
Axford, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, likely will be used in a setup role, since the Cardinals already have Edward Mujica (35 saves) as their closer. Axford will be in uniform when the Cardinals play in Pittsburgh at 6:05 p.m. Friday. He will wear No. 34.
Axford already was in Pittsburgh, where the Brewers just completed a three-game series with the Pirates on Thursday. Axford threw a scoreless inning and struck out two Wednesday.
Axford's 46 saves led the National League two years ago. He has worked in 62 games this season and has 19 holds. He was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in six games during the Brewers' run to the NL Championship Series in 2011.
Axford has 106 career saves and has pitched well at Busch Stadium, going 9-for-9 in saves with a 1.69 ERA in 16 games.
Axford is 21-19 with a 3.35 ERA in 268 career games, but he hasn't been as effective this season. He has allowed 62 hits in 54 2/3 innings, with 23 walks and 54 strikeouts. He also has permitted 10 home runs, matching a career-high set last year in 69 1/3 innings.
Left-handed batters are hitting .280 against Axford with a .460 slugging percentage. Right-handed batters also have fared well, hitting .291 with a .462 slugging percentage. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a slider.
The trade is the first between the Cardinals and Brewers since Aug. 22, 2003, when St. Louis acquired reliever Mike DeJean for pitchers Mike Crudale and John Novinsky.
Axford is making $5 million this season, a deal he signed last January to avoid arbitration. Axford is arbitration-eligible again in January 2014 and January 2015.