Blue Jays Brett Cecil quietly entering free agent year


Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil is entering his free agent year as one of baseball’s most dominant relievers, but understandably , it’s been overshadowed

It’s the year of expiring contracts in Toronto.

Middle-reliever Brett Cecil is set to earn $3.8 million in his final arbitration year before hitting the free agent market.

Given the recent rate at which relief pitchers are being paid, especially high-leverage arms in non-closer roles like Cecil, he could be due for a healthy raise over several years. Throwing with his left hand will only help the 29-year-old.

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Cecil pitched 54.1 innings for the Blue Jays in 2016, beginning in the closer’s role before sliding back to the eighth inning. By the end of the year he’d brought his ERA back down to 2.48 and improved upon his 2014 with a 1.4 WAR.

Alongside the louder negotiations of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, Brett Cecil is taking more of a wait-and-see approach.

“I’m up for whatever,” Cecil told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. “I’m open. I’ve heard I’m very coachable, not that this is necessarily a coachable situation, but I’m a very easygoing person, very easy to work with. There’s not necessarily going to be demands on what it’s got to be. If they want to talk then we can talk. If not then we don’t.”

Whereas Bautista seems to be more directly involved in his contract situation, Cecil is content to let the process play itself out.

“I want to be involved in everything, but it’s not something that I’m going to go out and search for,” Cecil said. “I guess you could say taking a backseat, letting everything play out.”

Recent market trends mean that Cecil will not necessarily need the counting stat of saves to get paid either. This is good for him unlikelihood of opportunities given the presence of Roberto Osuna and Drew Storen.

The remaining question is how much another strong season would increase his value. Even an “up” season could just maintain his current value, so Toronto should be free to negotiate with him without his representation projecting much of a value increase.

Given that Storen is also on an expiring deal, locking up one of the two will be critical to the bullpen’s success in 2017 and beyond.