The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have signed free agent left-handed reliever Brett Cecil to a four-year deal that extends through the 2020 season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Adding a proven late-game performer like Brett Cecil, who has consistently been among the game's top set-up relievers, gives us another solid option late in games," stated Cardinals Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. "Having multiple bullpen options during the crucial latter portions of games is an area that we have placed significant importance on over the years, and to know that Brett is now going to be part of that mix is very exciting."
Cecil, 30, has been used exclusively as a reliever since 2013, ranking among American League relief leaders in strikeouts (261, 7th), strikeouts per nine innings pitched (11.46, 10th), games pitched (243, 8th) and holds (53, T13th).
The 6-3, 235-pound Maryland native was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round (38th player overall) in 2007 and debuted with the Jays in 2009. He has pitched his entire Major League career with Toronto, compiling a 41-42 mark with a 4.20 ERA and 11 saves in 330 games (74 games started), striking out 585 in 656 innings pitched.
Cecil, who was named an American League All-Star in 2013 ranks among the majors Top-10 active leaders in career strikeouts per nine innings (11.05) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.63) among left-handed relievers. Since moving into the bullpen exclusively in 2013, he's allowed just one earned run in 28 2/3 innings pitched (0.31 ERA) in September while striking out 48 and he is unscored-upon in his eight career postseason appearances between 2015 and '16.
Last season, Cecil appeared in 54 games (36.2 IP) and struck out 45 batters while walking eight and he worked six scoreless appearances during the Blue Jays run to the American League Championship Series last month. Forty-five of his 54 appearances this past season came in the seventh and/or eighth innings, and 192 of his 243 relief appearances since 2013 have been in either of those two innings.
Since 2013, Cecil has limited left-handed batters to a .218 batting average, while right-handers have hit just .221. He's limited the opposition to a .177 batting mark with runners in scoring position over the past four seasons. Cecil had a record string of 38 consecutive appearances between 2015 and 2016 during which he allowed no earned runs.
Cecil will wear uniform No. 21 as a Cardinal.
The Cardinals also announced today that they have designated catcher Brayan Pena for assignment to make room for Cecil on the team's 40-man Major League roster.