BOSTON (CBS) — One year ago, Jenrry Mejia was serving a lifetime banishment by Major League Baseball. But MLB apparently considers two years a lifetime, because Mejia was reinstated in July despite his three failed drug tests.
Now he’ll be competing for a spot on the defending World Series champions. The Boston Red Sox signed Mejia to a minor-league deal on Tuesday, as they search near and far for anyone who can help their relief corps.
Mejia, a former closer of the New York Mets, was banned in 2016 after flunking his third test for performance-enhancing drugs. He spent parts of five seasons with New York, debuting in 2010 before missing all of the 2011 and 2012 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
After saving 28 games for the Mets in 2014, he was hit with an 80-game suspension in 2015. And then a 162-game suspension. In 2016, after his third failed drug test, he was hit with that lifetime ban, which lasted all of two years.
Overall, Mejia is 9-14 with a 3.68 ERA and 28 saves in 32 opportunities. The Red Sox are hoping the 29-year-old has learned from his three strikes and can return to his 2014 form.
Boston has been very conservative with their bullpen so far this offseason, and Dombrowski has made it clear they won’t be shelling out any big contracts for a reliever. All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel remains a free agent, but the Red Sox won’t give in to his monstrous contract demands this winter.
That has paved the way for guys like Mejia to get a shot in 2019. If he performs well in spring training, there is a good chance he could play a big role in their bullpen next season.