Axford, a 5th-year vet, has 4.65 ERA through 62 appearances on the season. He has not been the same pitcher as he was in 2010-11 when Axford was among the top closers in the league. Since 2012, Axford has been plagued by control issues and a propensity for giving up the long ball.
The 30-year-old Axford could certainly turn his luck around in St. Louis. Outside of a tough start to the season, Axford has not been terrible this season. He had a stretch of 23 appearances without being scored on, and 32 appearances with just one run allowed. Since a poor game on May 1, he has a 2.91 ERA. He still had issues with walks, but was able to work his way out of jams using his still-excellent stuff. Furthermore, playing his games in Busch Stadium may help Axford limit his home run tendencies. Over his career, he has only allowed four home runs in ballparks other than Miller Park and Great American Ballpark.
The Cardinals are in the middle of a playoff chase and have been looking to round out the back of their bullpen. Though the team's relief corps had previously been one of the worst in the majors, St. Louis is currently right around the middle of the pack with a 3.56 bullpen ERA. However, they have been relying heavily on Edward Mujica, Trevor Rosenthal and Seth Maness. Another reliever that can help ease the pressure on those three men will be a welcome addition for the Cards.
For the Brewers, the move is likely at least partly influenced by Axford's upcoming salary. He will be in his second year of eligibility for arbitration and would likely receive a raise from the $5 million he is making in 2013. Axford had been rumored to be a non-tender candidate for the Brewers, who are already on the hook for nearly $74 million in player salaries for 2014.