St. Louis Cardinals Reach Agreement with Free Agent Brett Cecil

The hot stove continues to stay warm on Saturday as the St. Louis Cardinals reach a deal with free agent reliever Brett Cecil today.

It took a little bit longer than usual this winter, but the offseason began to really heat up this week. We saw the Houston Astros trade for veteran catcher Brian McCann from the New York Yankees. Shortly after that news broke, the Astros signed free agent right fielder Josh Reddick as well. The Astros’ trade with the Yankees signaled the end of their bid to bring Jason Castro back in 2017. They also took one of the more prized players available in Reddick off the market.

Today the St. Louis Cardinals have dropped the first domino in the free agent reliever market by signing former Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Brett Cecil. The deal was first reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, while FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal confirmed that the contract will pay Cecil $30.5 million dollars over the next four years. The deal also includes a full no-trade clause. Passan reported that the market on Cecil heated up quickly once teams realized three years wasn’t going to get the deal done. The Cardinals upped their offer to four years and got their man.

Cecil, 30, is coming off of a less than stellar 2016 season with the Blue Jays after pitching to a 1-7 record with a 3.93 ERA over the course of 36.2 innings of work. Prior to 2016, Cecil enjoyed an impressive three-year stretch when he accumulated a 12-9 record with a 2.67 ERA over 168.1 innings pitched from 2013-2015. During that same span, Cecil struck out 216 hitters, walking only 63.

Cecil will join a Cardinals bullpen that ranked 13th in MLB with a 3.62 ERA as a unit, allowing 207 earned runs over 514 innings of work. With rumors that the Cardinals will try to stretch current reliever Trevor Rosenthal into a starter in 2017, and Zach Duke looking to miss next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals needed to add some depth to the back-end of their bullpen.

The signing of Cecil marks the first movement on the reliever-heavy free agent market, featuring the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. Passan said he spoke with multiple MLB executives, who all beleive that the Cecil deal will be a “market changer” moving forward.

If you’re looking to see where the next of the remaining big-name bullpen pieces will fall, the San Francisco Giants have been in contact with all three of the pitchers, even having Mark Melancon in San Francisco for a meeting with the team last week.

Melancon spoke highly of the Giants organization after the meeting with the Giants stating that the “organization speaks for itself” in referring to the three World Series championships since 2010.

The Yankees have reached out to the Aroldis Chapman camp as well, while the Red Sox appear to be actively pursuing former Royals closer Greg Holland this winter. Look for the reliever market to be increasingly fluid in the next week across baseball.

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