Former Toronto Blue Jays’ reliever Brett Cecil has agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, which Jeff Passan reports could exceed $30 million over four seasons.
Cecil had recently been linked to a reunion with the Blue Jays as Jamie Campbell reported early in the week that Toronto offered the 30-year-old a three-year contract.
The Blue Jays selected Cecil back in 2007, 38th overall, and initially used him in a starting role out of the University of Maryland before transitioning him to the bullpen where he has emerged as one of the game’s strongest left-handed relievers.
In the four seasons since making the full-time shift to the bullpen, Cecil has posted a 2.90 ERA over 205.0 innings while striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings. His snapping curveball developed into a true wipeout pitch and should help Cecil to age well compared to some other relievers.
After opening the season slowly and hitting the disabled list, Cecil did bounce back with a much stronger home stretch and playoff run for the Blue Jays which ultimately salvaged his free agent value.
Beyond the big-name closers in Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, and Mark Melancon, Cecil did represent the market’s top left-handed option and is a legitimate candidate to pitch the highest-leverage innings on a contending team.
This contract also sets the bar for other deals to unfold around him. Cecil earning a fourth year on this reported contract will help other relievers as this continues to be one of the more lucrative positions for player salary growth.
Cecil’s signing also removes one of the Blue Jays’ top bullpen targets from the board. Beyond Roberto Osuna and Jason Grilli at the back end of the bullpen, there is little certainty elsewhere as Joe Biagini could be transitioning to a starting role and Joaquin Benoit is a free agent. The current left-handers on Toronto’s roster are led by Aaron Loup, Chad Girodo, and Matt Dermody.