(Busch Stadium) Pointing out that it was one of the worst kept secrets in some time, St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak officially introduced free agent signee Brett Cecil on Monday afternoon.
“It means a lot,” began Cecil, who was joined by his wife, three children, and parents at the press conference. “This organization is very rich in baseball history, they have a winning tradition. When all the teams were being mentioned and St. Louis came along, it was very exciting for me and my family to hear that they were interested and ultimately we knew in our hearts that this was the right fit for us.”
Besides Toronto reportedly having a 3-year deal on the table to keep Cecil, the Seattle Mariners were also rumored to be interested which at least helped spur the Cardinals to making their deal worth a reported $30.5 million over four years.
“We typically don’t report terms, but I will say it’s a four-year contract,” shared Mozeliak. “Why the four years? It’s a couple of things. I think the market was really moving on this one. I think Brett will be happy to tell you that he had a lot of interest in him and we certainly valued him being a part of our organization. You think back to sort of where we are and how you think about the bullpen and the purpose of bullpens today, as we looked at this market we really felt like he would be the key person to really help us in securing a very strong bullpen moving forward.
“And then also, when you think about what he’s capable of doing and how you can use him–he gives us a lot of flexibility and I think that’s important for Mike Matheny and his staff. But overall, our off-season plan has been to take steps to try and improve this club and we feel certainly today we have.”
Since moving to the bullpen in 2013, Cecil has held left-handed hitters to a .218 batting average with righties not much better at .221.
“I like to pitch inside,” answered Cecil as to why he’s had success. “I think it’s very important. I’m not scared to pitch inside. Righties, lefties–it doesn’t matter. I think that’s why I’ve had a lot of success against righties as well, because I like to pitch inside. Sometimes guys shy away, whether it’s afraid of leaving one over the plate or hitting ’em–that stuff’s going to happen. That’s one thing I like to do is pitch inside and I think it’s a lot of why I’ve had success.”
The move for additional left-handed help in the bullpen was triggered by Zach Duke undergoing Tommy John surgery last month. Kevin Siegrist remained as the only southpaw reliever as Tyler Lyons required a second knee surgery, Marco Gonzales is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and both Dean Kiekhefer and Tim Cooney were claimed off waivers.
“Sometimes with injuries, opportunities present themselves,” said Mozeliak. “That’s exactly what we felt like with Brett. Clearly, you look at what Mr. Cecil’s been able to accomplish over the years and how he fits with us, I just think it really works out well. Clearly, the bullpen market is going to see a lot of back end action with multiple free agents, but someone who’s left-handed, someone that can pitch 7th, 8th, or 9th makes a lot of sense for us.”
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