The Cardinals have acted swiftly to fill one of their biggest offseason needs, agreeing to a deal with left-handed reliever Brett Cecil, the team announced Monday.
The Cards and Cecil agreed to a four-year contract on Saturday, which according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, is valued at $30.5 million. Cecil's contract includes a full no-trade clause, according to Rosenthal.
Cecil, 30, will fill the void created by the absence of lefty reliever Zach Duke, who is out for the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. General manager John Mozeliak said last week that the Cards would keep their options open, considering both right-handed and lefty options to set up closer Seung Hwan Oh.
The Cards' left-handed depth took another hit when it was determined that Tyler Lyons needed surgery to repair his ailing right knee.
In the end, St. Louis moved quickly to lock down the 30-year-old Cecil, who posted a 2.90 ERA in four seasons as a full-time reliever for the Blue Jays. Cecil has pitched eight seasons in the Majors, all of them with Toronto. He went 1-7 with a 3.93 ERA, 45 strikeouts and eight walks in 36 2/3 innings over 54 appearances in 2016.
The lefty has been tough on left-handed hitters throughout his career, holding southpaws to a .226/.281/.344 batting line. Right-handers have hit .273 with an .800 OPS against him, but he limited righties to a .569 OPS in 2014 and a .576 mark in '15.
Cecil missed more than a month last season due to a torn lat muscle. He struggled before the injury, posting a 5.23 ERA in his first 16 appearances, then put together a 3.42 ERA with 36 strikeouts and five walks over his final 26 1/3 innings.
By bringing aboard Cecil to fill out their bullpen, the Cardinals can now focus on their most pressing offseason need in the outfield. Ideally, the Cards would like to land an athletic center fielder to improve their defense and inject speed into their lineup, but they will consider a corner outfielder that would keep Randal Grichuk in center.
Adam Berry has covered baseball for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.