The Cardinals announced Wednesday that they’ve released left-hander Brett Cecil. The veteran reliever was entering the final season of a four-year, $30.5MM deal that proved to be a substantial misstep. The Cardinals also placed infielder/outfielder Brad Miller on the 10-day IL due to bursitis in his right ankle.
From 2013-15, Cecil was quietly one of baseball’s best lefty relievers, pitching to a 2.67 ERA and an even better 2.54 FIP while averaging 11.5 strikeouts, 3.4 walks and 0.53 HR/9 with a 52.2 percent ground-ball rate in 168 1/3 innings. A triceps injury shortened his 2016 season, but Cecil still posted generally solid results in 36 2/3 frames — parlaying that excellent four-year run into the aforementioned Cardinals deal. The size of the contract was viewed as a surprise at the time, but most pundits had agreed that Cecil had a legitimate case at a lucrative three-year deal, and the four-year term was reflective of wide interest in his services in free agency.
Unfortunately for both the Cardinals and Cecil, things went south in a hurry. Cecil lost a mile off his fastball in his first season with the Cards — a year in which he pitched 67 2/3 frames with a respectable 3.88 ERA but diminished strikeout numbers. A shoulder strain and a foot injury limited Cecil to just 32 2/3 innings of 6.89 ERA ball in 2018. Few would’ve thought that with two years to go on the contract, Cecil had thrown his last pitch as a Cardinal, but he missed all of 2019 after undergoing surgery to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome and now won’t get the opportunity to bounce back in 2020 — at least not with the Cardinals.
Cecil had been throwing during Summer Camp with the Cardinals and was even trying out a new sidearm delivery that he hoped would help him to regain his effectiveness. Cecil turned 34 earlier this month, so it’s not as though he’s too old for a bounceback effort to be plausible. That said, it’s been a half decade since he was last an elite reliever and more than two full seasons have passed since he was last serviceable. The hope is obviously that he can bounce back, but it seems unlikely that another club will sign him and immediately test him out in the high-leverage situations in which he once excelled.
The Cardinals had been set to pay Cecil a $7MM salary in the final season of that four-year pact. Prorated, that came out to just shy of $2.6MM — a sum they’ll still owe to the lefty even after cutting him loose. Any club can sign Cecil at this point, and he’d only be owed the prorated league minimum for any time spent on another club’s Major League roster. That sum would be subtracted from what the Cardinals owe Cecil, but regardless of how the year plays out, they’re on the hook for the vast majority of what he’s owed.
As for Miller, he inked a one-year, $2MM deal with the Cards late in the offseason and was expected to fill an infield/outfield utility role — perhaps also seeing some time at designated hitter against right-handed opponents. There’s no timetable for his recovery just yet.
To the Rays? To replace Poche?
Makes a lot of sense. Price is right, and the pitching folks in TB do
At this point, any team taking on Cecil would be making a big gamble. Word is his velocity is WAY down. The other night he topped out at 80.9mph with his curve running 71-72 mph and slider 73-75 mph
Big gamble? $200,000 in today’s market is pocket change.
Yeah the only gamble would be performance. But in a shortened season, and a contender like the Rays, that may be too big of a gamble to take given he’s hardly pitched in 2 years and was not very good in the 2 before that.
True, but the roster spot is quite valuable in itself for a contending team like the Rays.
pro-rated won’t be $200,000
Your kidding of course Rays are not that stupid
Life is hard. But easier with 30 million. Best of luck.
stan lee the manly
Go back to the Blue Jays. They could use another lefty reliever.
I’d love to see him back. He was one of my favourite Jays for quite awhile. Not sure what he has left in the tank, but it’d be nice to see him again and it’s not like he’ll be demanding a lot of money.
He just changed his throwing motion to a submarine sidearm type approach too.
Finally, now who’s the next lefty reliever Mo is going sign on a 3-5 year contract?
Doesn’t have to be a lefty reliever for Mo to make a bad offer.
Sadly you are correct. Just went to mlb.com to see the roster and saw they were playing live at Busch. Flipped on the tv to regrettably still see Mr. Fowler patrolling right field
Why does everyone seem to forget that Fowler had a decent bounceback last year (and also played well for the Cards in 2017 when healthy)?. While it’s not saying a whole lot (and he is still overpaid), at the moment he’s still the most proven outfielder the Cardinals have.
Didn’t forget, but “bouncing back” from a career-worst year to one that was mediocre and still not worth what he’s getting paid annually isn’t memorable, anyway.
Most proven? Sure, but I’d still rather give the time to younger players with higher ceilings.
And the original comment was about bad offers and bad deals, which this still definitely is. Mo paid a premium after Fowler’s career-best year, and it only would’ve panned out as a good deal if he’s been averaging at least 2 WAR or so per year. Which he hasn’t.
It won’t be this season at the very least. For once the Cardinals actually have an abundance of decent or better lefties in the pen between Miller, Webb, Kim, and Gomber. It made releasing Cecil even easier of a decision to make.
Perfect for the Giants bullpen
Fowler again today was walk or nothing. I agree with one of the above posters I’d rather see one of the young kids, or even austin dean over Fowler. Guy can have a 350 on base but who cares when hes hitting 225 and slugging 370 and playing average defense. Cut bait or flip him in a bad contract swap. Let’s move on from these terrible deals. I honestly feel like I havent seen fowler hit a ball out of the infield in 12 months
fowler, you’re next
Plus——if he produces as he did in 2019—-
Matt Carpenter goes after Cecil and Fowler.