By Jack Besser, from Cardsblog.com
The Hot Stove just got hotter. The Cardinals show they will be a player in this year's market.
This is a crucial acquisition for the Cardinals, following the loss of Zach Duke to injury. Cecil, the eight year veteran of the Blue Jays, has put together an impressive resumé over his past four years in the majors. From 2013 to 2015 Cecil put together ERAs of 2.80, 2.72, and 2.48, respectively, garnering an All Star Selection in 2013.
He regressed substantially this year, after a slow start battling injuries. However, after the All-Star Break, Cecil turned things around and returned to his dominant form. His 3.93 ERA is misleading, as he finished the year strong with a 3.12 ERA, striking out 33 in 22.2 innings - with that ERA elevated due to home runs. All signs are showing that Brett Cecil still has the dominance he showed in the past.
Despite his down season, the market for Cecil this year was still highly competitive, as this year's FA market lacked strong LH relievers. The only proven options were Cecil and Rzepczynski, as Boone Logan and Jerry Blevins have not been as dominant in recent years. The Cardinals were not looking for the likes of an Aroldis Chapman, but due to the deficiency in the market, they still had to pay a hefty price Cecil, with what could be an $8 million + AAV.
Cecil is just 30 years old, so giving him a four year contract is not a problem age-wise. However, baseball has shown us that pitchers' successes come and go. Making long-term commitments to relievers can backfire, but with so few options available, the Cardinals needed to do what it takes to land one of the premiere lefties.
We saw this year with Rosenthal, and around baseball we saw it with Sean Tolleson and Joakim Soria, to name a few. Commitments like this one can backfire, but the Cardinals both hope and need to get the best out of Cecil.
The consequences of this deal for the free agent market are immense. If Cecil can land a deal like this, there is no telling what the super-elite pitchers will be pulling in. And for the remaining set-up guys on the market, their prospects have just gotten a lot brighter.
The Cardinals have now filled one hole on their roster. If they're willing to make such a splash now, who knows what is next? We all know that #52 is looking for a new home.
John Mozeliak is one of the best general managers in baseball. Mozeliak always seems to know when the time is right to buy or sell. He is great at getting the guy that his team needs in that moment. He is also really good at evaluating the talent on his own team.