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Brewers negotiating long-term deal with closer John Axford

Feb 29, 2012, 5:55 PM EDT

John Axford AP

It’s probably not coming this week, but the Brewers could soon have closer John Axford locked up through his arbitration years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Assistant GM Gord Ash said the two sides have been negotiating since Axford reported to spring training, and while a deal isn’t close yet, progress has been made.

Says Ash:

All of the conversations have been very pleasant. I don’t want to get into too much detail because we don’t negotiate through the press, but the game plan is to get this one year in place and then take the balance of spring training to talk (about a multi-year deal).

Barring a trip back to the minors, Axford will be eligible for arbitration as a super-two player after this season. He didn’t spend all of 2010 in the majors, so he won’t be a free agent until after 2016.

Axford tied for the NL lead with 46 saves in 48 opportunities last season. He had a 1.95 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings.

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