The Blue Jays have made a three-year offer to Brett Cecil in an effort to retain the free-agent left-hander, reports Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell (via Twitter). The average annual value of the offer isn’t known at this time.
Cecil, 30, posted an abnormally high 3.93 ERA in 2016 but turned in excellent strikeout-to-walk numbers, averaging 11 strikeouts and just two walks per nine innings pitched. The primary factor behind his uncharacteristic ERA spike was a spike in his homer-to-flyball rate; Cecil saw 11.6 percent of the fly-balls against him turn into home runs from 2009-15, but that rate jumped to 20.8 percent in 2016. Homer-to-flyball rate is prone to year-to-year fluctuations, however, and it’s never been a significant problem for Cecil before, who has somewhat quietly dominated over the past four seasons, posting a 2.90 ERA with 11.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent ground-ball rate in 205 innings for the Jays. He’s held both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters in check over that time as well, so he shouldn’t be limited to a specialist role like many southpaw relievers.
Outside of Aroldis Chapman, Cecil is very arguably the top free-agent lefty on the market. He ranked 26th on MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents, where he was projected to land a three-year, $18MM pact. Cecil already been connected to the Mariners in the past week and figures to draw widespread interest, as nearly every team in the league is looking for bullpen pieces early in the offseason, and the supply of quality left-handed arms is slimmer than the supply of quality right-handers. As it stands, Aaron Loup, Chad Girodo and Matt Dermody are the only left-handed relievers on Toronto’s 40-man roster, so their need to add some left-handed stability to the bullpen is evident.