St. Louis Cardinals announced October 14, LHP Zack Duke undergoing Tommy Johns surgery and would be out for the 2017 season. Duke was Cardinals mid-to-late inning reliever, who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox at the trade-deadline this past season. He closed his season with a 2.36 ERA/68 SO with two saves in his total 61.1 innings pitched. A major loss for the Cardinals bullpen. Announcement came yesterday, pending a physical, free agent LHP Brett Cecil, formerly with the Toronto Blue Jays, will be signed to fill the absence of Duke. Reportedly, the union will be for 4 Yrs/$30 MM+.
LHP Brett Cecil, 2017 free agent, to be signed to a four year deal by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
From information gathered, Cecil's paper numbers look great. He did close his 2016 season with a 3.94 ERA; but, very misleading. Returning from a severe calf (tear) injury last season, pre-All Star, a 5.14 ERA. Post-All Star he had brought that down to a 3.18 ERA/22.2 IP/33 SO, holding the opposition to a .221 BA. Comparatively to past seasons, 2013 - 2.82 ERA/60.2 IP/70 SO; 2014 - 2.70 ERA/53.1 IP/76 SO; 2015 - 2.48 ERA/54.1 IP/70 SO/WHIP 0.957. I feel this kid has the potential to return to under a 3.00 average. In addition, in the playoffs this past season for the Blue Jays, Cecil was lights out with a 0.00 ERA.
The 30 year old has spent his entire major league career with the Blue Jays for the past eight seasons. He began as a starter, then moved to the bullpen with much improved performance. Plans are, reportedly, that he will be the Cardinals set-up man for closer Seung Hwan Oh. And, I'm presuming all goes well with his physical, the contract inked as mentioned above, Cecil and the Cardinals become trend setters for the rest of the free agent pool of pitchers in 2017. Even at $30 MM, to save many from getting your calculators out, that will be approximately $7.55 MM per season dependent on a final figure and final details ironed out.
Yes, Zach Duke will be missed in 2017. However, in my opinion, the Cardinals have found a worthy and solid replacement to boost their bullpen. In lieu of MLB contracts, I believe the Cardinals have done well for their first major signing for next season. Therefore, and maybe premature; but, I don't think so ~ Welcome to Cardinals Nation Brett Cecil. Happy to have you on board. Will be great to see him in a "Birds on the Bat" uniform.