Mejia appears to be returning to Mets

Source: Club likely to tender contract to embattled former closer before Wednesday's deadline

Mejia appears to be returning to Mets

NEW YORK -- Despite a pair of performance-enhancing drug suspensions that cost Jenrry Mejia nearly all of last season, the Mets will "likely" tender their former closer a contract for 2016, according to a source. The team has not commented on the decision.

Mejia, 26, will not be eligible to return from suspension until July 28. He missed 80 games last season following a positive test for stanozolol, returned for less than three weeks, then was suspended again and served the first 62 games of his current 162-game levy.

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The Mets could have severed ties with Mejia at the time of his second suspension, but general manager Sandy Alderson cited his desire to avoid making a rash decision. As a result, the Mets evaluated Mejia throughout the summer and more recently in the Dominican Winter League, where he has posted a 4.09 ERA in seven games.

Mejia is now arbitration-eligible for the second time, meaning the Mets must offer him a contract of at least $2.08 million next season (80 percent of his 2015 salary). But he will only be eligible to collect 38 percent of that figure due to his suspension, meaning even if he wins a larger contract through arbitration, the Mets will almost certainly pay Mejia less than $1 million next season.

It is a baseball decision that the front office appears to be willing to make, despite a clubhouse full of players -- including captain David Wright -- who spoke sternly and openly about Mejia following his second suspension. Once a top prospect, Mejia was the Mets' Opening Day closer, but he lost the role following an April injury and his subsequent suspension. Jeurys Familia wound up filling in, developing into one of the game's top closers in the process.

Overall last season, Mejia appeared in seven games without allowing a run. He owns a 3.68 ERA in parts of five seasons for the Mets, shuttling between the rotation and bullpen. The Mets need to make their decision on Mejia -- as well as on shortstop Ruben Tejada and their other arbitration-eligible players -- official by Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.