The Cardinals have acted swiftly to fill one of their biggest offseason needs, reportedly agreeing to a deal with left-handed reliever Brett Cecil on Saturday.
The Cards are in agreement with Cecil on a four-year, $30.5 million contract, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The club has not confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan first reported news of the agreement. Cecil's contract includes a full no-trade clause, according to Rosenthal.
Brett Cecil agrees on a four-year, $30.5M deal with Cardinals
Cecil, 30, will fill the void created by the absence of lefty reliever Zach Duke, who is out for the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. General manager John Mozeliak said last week that the Cards would keep their options open, considering both right-handed and lefty options to set up closer Seung Hwan Oh.
The Cards' left-handed depth took another hit when it was determined thatTyler Lyons needed surgery to repair his ailing right knee.
• Justice: Cecil signing sign of things to come?
In the end, St. Louis moved quickly to lock down the 30-year-old Cecil, who posted a 2.90 ERA in four seasons as a full-time reliever for the Blue Jays. Cecil has pitched eight seasons in the Majors, all of them with Toronto. He went 1-7 with a 3.93 ERA, 45 strikeouts and eight walks in 36 2/3 innings over 54 appearances in 2016.
The lefty has been tough on left-handed hitters throughout his career, holding southpaws to a .226/.281/.344 batting line. Right-handers have hit .273 with an .800 OPS against him, but he limited righties to a .569 OPS in 2014 and a .576 mark in '15.
Cecil missed more than a month last season due to a torn lat muscle. He struggled before the injury, posting a 5.23 ERA in his first 16 appearances, then put together a 3.42 ERA with 36 strikeouts and five walks over his final 26 1/3 innings.
By bringing aboard Cecil to fill out their bullpen, the Cardinals can now focus on their most pressing offseason need in the outfield. Ideally, the Cards would like to land an athletic center fielder to improve their defense and inject speed into their lineup, but they will consider a corner outfielder that would keep Randal Grichuk in center.
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