DUNEDIN, Fla. – With all the discussion surrounding the contract status of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, it’s easy to forget that the Toronto Blue Jays have a long list of pending free agents beyond their two sluggers.
Brett Cecil, a member of the organization since 2007, is among those slated to test the open market next winter. Extension talks haven’t taken place to his knowledge, and he’s not going to ask his representatives to initiate discussions, but he’s open to a long-term deal.
“I’m up for whatever,” Cecil said. “I’m open. I’ve heard I’m very coachable, not that this is necessarily a coachable situation, but I’m a very easygoing person, very easy to work with. There’s not necessarily going to be demands on what it’s got to be. If they want to talk then we can talk. If not then we don’t.”
Either way, the 29-year-old says he’ll focus on the field.
"I want to be involved in everything, but it’s not something that I’m going to go out and search for," Cecil said. "I guess you could say taking a backseat, letting everything play out."
This time last year Cecil was battling shoulder soreness, which eventually contributed to a slow start. But he excelled after June 21, posting a 0.00 ERA in 37 games with 44 strikeouts. By the end of the regular season, Cecil had arguably put together his best numbers as a big leaguer: a 2.48 ERA with 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
A torn left calf muscle sidelined him in the ALCS, but he feels strong after months of rest and rehab and will tentatively make his spring debut Monday against the Atlanta Braves. With Aaron Loup sidelined by a flexor strain in his elbow, Cecil’s the lone lefty assured of a spot in the Blue Jays bullpen.
Historically closers have cashed in while middle relievers have been comparatively underpaid. That trend has slowed of late, particularly this past offseason when setup relievers like Darren O'Day, Ryan Madson and Tony Sipp cashed in. While Cecil doesn’t follow the market particularly closely, he couldn’t help but notice when the dollars started jumping for the middle relief market.
"It’s great," Cecil said. "Those guys are getting what they deserve. Sometimes the hardest outs are in the seventh and eighth when you come in with runners on base. Typically closers get those clean innings. Good on them for it."
Whether it’s in Toronto or elsewhere, Cecil’s unquestionably well-positioned to continue the trend of middle relievers getting paid.