When it comes to the always welcome left-handed help out of the bullpen, the Blue Jays got some grief on Saturday rather than relief.
The team will now be without reliever Brett Cecil, who has reportedly come to terms on a four-year, US$30.5-million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The deal, which will be completed pending Cecil’s ability to pass a physical with his new team, shows yet again the need around major league baseball for quality left-handed arms.
Cecil likely earned himself the deal with a strong close to the 2016 season in which he was a recorded a shut-down 1.74 earned run average over his final 30 appearances. Over the course of the season, Cecil compiled a 3.94 ERA in 36.2 innings of work.
All eyes in the baseball world also no doubt took note of his six scoreless appearances during the Jays playoff run to the ALCS plus his successful recovery from an injury earlier in the season.
The 30-year-old was considered one of the more solid left-handed reliever options available in free agency, which explains the healthy amount of cash the Cardinals were willing to offer to shore up their pen.
The top lefty that remains available to Jays manager John Gibbons is now Aaron Loup, though general manager Ross Atkins is likely to explore remaining southpaws on the market now that Cecil has gone to the National League.
The bespectacled hurler spent has spent all of his eight-year career in the majors with the Blue Jays, the highlight of which was being voted to the 2013 All Star Game. Working full-time out of the bullpen for the past four seasons, primarily as a setup man, Cecil appeared in 240 games as a Jay, compiling a 2.90 ERA.
Cecil had a slow start to 2016 season, hampered by a left triceps injury that forced him to miss six weeks beginning in May.
Earlier in the week, the Jays had reportedly made a three-year offer to Cecil in this his first stint as a free agent. Cecil, who was drafted by the Jays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2007 MLB amateur draft, also had reportedly drawn interest from the Seattle Mariners.
Rob Longley via Toronto Sun | Photo: jailhouseoffice.files.
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