The St. Louis Cardinals have addressed their left-handed bullpen need, reportedly coming to terms on a four-year contract with free agent Brett Cecil, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal is worth $30.5 million over the four seasons and includes full no-trade protection, according to media reports, the first of which came from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The contract will likely not be announced by the Cardinals until the 30-year-old passes a physical examination.
St. Louis was in need with Zach Duke slated to miss the 2017 due to Tommy John surgery. Returning lefty Kevin Siegrist has been less dominant than in the past and Tyler Lyons will not be ready to open the season due to knee surgery. Other in-house left-handed options are unproven or are coming off injury.
Cecil, a former starter, has been successful in his four seasons working out of the Toronto bullpen. As one might expect, he has been very effective against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a career .226/.281/.344/.625 slash line. Cecil can also get righties out, however, with a corresponding line of .273/.342/.457/.800.
Those unfamiliar with Cecil might be concerned about his 3.93 ERA in 2016, but he was out for six weeks with a left triceps strain. He struggled initially coming off the DL before logging a solid 2.08 ERA in August and September, including 26 strikeouts against three walks in 17 1/3 innings.
Cecil continued his solid work into the post-season, allowing no hits over his four innings of work against Baltimore, Texas and Cleveland.
Friend Eno Sarris of Fangraphs explained his view of Cecil in 140 characters.
The Maryland native was drafted in the first round (38th overall) by the Blue Jays in 2007. He reached the majors as a starter in 2009 before moving into a bullpen role in 2012. This was his first opportunity for free agency, where he was arguably the top left-hander on the open market.
Multiple reports had several clubs, including the Jays, willing to offer Cecil three years. Apparently, the Cardinals had to guarantee a fourth year to get their man. Various estimates had Cecil in line to receive a contract with an annual value of about $6 million per season. He ended up with just over $7.5.
When the deal is official, St. Louis will have to remove a player from its 40-man roster to accommodate Cecil’s addition.
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