The Blue Jays have several free agents this offseason, and among them is left-handed reliever Brett Cecil.
The Blue Jays new front office has a busy offseason ahead of them, and it’s already starting to heat up. Monday at 5pm EST is the deadline for free agents who received the qualifying offer to make their decision, so things could move quickly after that passes.
The Blue Jays have been among the early movers in the MLB offseason, already signing DH Kendrys Morales to a 3 year/33 million dollar pact, and also signing Lourdes Gurriel Jr to a 7 year/22 million dollar deal.
Monday morning brings us the news that the Blue Jays are still hard at work, and are trying to bring back one of their own free agents. Jamie Campbell of Sportsnet tweeted out this little piece of news.
The news make a great deal of sense, especially given the lack of left-handed depth in the Blue Jays bullpen. Cecil often operated as the lone lefty in the pen in 2016, and the Blue Jays will have to replace his arm if they aren’t able to retain his services. The Blue Jays have Aaron Loup returning next season if they decide to keep him, but his 1.2 million expected salary may have him on the bubble.
For his part, Cecil has been with the Blue Jays since 2009. He started his career as a starting pitcher, only to move to the bullpen in 2013. He did win a team high 15 games as a starter in 2011, but he ultimately thrived as a member of the bullpen. He was an All-Star in 2013 alongside fellow bullpen mate Steve Delabar, cementing himself as a lefty-specialist in the pen, who could also get outs against righties.
The Maryland native struggled prior to the All-Star break in 2016, but found his form in the second half and was dominant into the playoffs. He battled a triceps injury early in the season, which likely contributed to his early struggles. He finished the season 1-7 with a 3.93 ERA, but considering his ERA was at 6.76 on July 20th, he put in some solid work during the pennant race. He only allowed 1 run in September, despite making 12 appearances over 8.2 innings. In the playoffs, he threw 4 scoreless innings, providing the left-handed specialist that manager John Gibbons was missing last postseason.
If the Blue Jays are unable to retain Cecil’s services, they will have to look elsewhere to bolster their left-handed bullpen depth. They have Loup, and Matt Dermody, but those names don’t inspire a lot of confident for a playoff contender. Still just 30, Cecil is young and has a long enough track record to warrant a 3 year deal. When he’s on his game, there aren’t many better at keeping lefties at bay.
As Atkins said in September, “Really, what gives us the most confidence is track record. Over time, if he continues to get the ball and John Gibbons will continue to use him, then I think there are bright days ahead for him.”
Here’s hoping he continues to get the ball from John Gibbons in a Blue Jay uniform for 3 more years.