Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said Friday the club attempted to negotiate a new deal with Axford, but they couldn't come to an agreement. Axford earned $2.6 million last season after initially agreeing to a Minor League deal with Colorado, but he is in line for a significant pay increase next year in his final season of arbitration eligibility.
Axford led the Majors with 46 saves in 2011 for the Brewers and has a career record of 28-28 with 141 saves and a 3.52 ERA over seven seasons in 403 Major League outings.
It's possible for Axford to still return to the Rockies, but as a free agent, he's now able to sign with any of the 30 MLB teams.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.