According to baseball insider Jon Heyman, the Toronto Blue Jays and Brett Cecil have come to terms on a one-year contract worth $2.475M, avoiding arbitration.
In 2014, Cecil made a total of $1.3M with the Jays and surely would have earned more this season had he been able to test the free agent market.
Since leaving the rotation to become a full-time reliever, Cecil has been incredible for the Jays. In 2013, Cecil was an All-Star with a 2.82 ERA and was even better in 2014 pitching 53 and a third innings, with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.2 WAR.
Heading into the off-season, the Jays publicly acknowledged the need for a revamped bullpen, but with top closers Andrew Miller and David Robertson signing with other clubs, the Jays appeared to have painted themselves into a corner.
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At least that’s what some fans think. In reality, the internal option of Cecil isn’t far off the past two seasons by the coveted Miller.
In the past two years combined, Miller’s WAR totals 2.7 over 93 innings. Cecil’s sits at 2.2 over 114 innings. In more familiar terms, Miller’s ERA sat at a comfortable 2.25 while Cecil’s was 2.76. Lastly his RE24 (run expectancy metric by Fangraphs) gives Cecil the edge with 23.4 while Miller trails with only 21.7.
What’s this mean? It means the two pitchers are, at least, somewhat comparable. The biggest difference however is in their contracts. Miller is being paid a whopping $9M per season, an enormous $6.525M more than Cecil this season. Miller is also a year older than the newly signed Blue Jay. But is Miller really $6.525M better? It’s doubtful, at least in the past two seasons.
Thus, Anthopoulos has made an absolute steal for the Blue Jays. While Cecil has yet to actually take on the closer’s role, it’s expected that he will be the one handed the ball in the 9th inning during winning situations come the regular season.
While the Jays’ bullpen issues have not completely been resolved, this move will surely be regarded as a step in the right direction. Although the Jays failed to land the desired Andrew Miller, they brought back Cecil at a price Miller would have never accepted.
Even if Cecil flops the way Miller may also, at least he won’t hurt the Jays financially.