St. Louis Cardinals Player Projections: Brett Cecil

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 15: Brett Cecil
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 15: Brett Cecil /

There is no other way to describe 2018 other than forgettable for St. Louis Cardinals’ relief pitcher, Brett Cecil. Will he improve in 2019?

Brett Cecil still has a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals. If I had written down my offseason predictions back in October, one of the things I would’ve predicted that was likely was that Brett Cecil was either traded or cut. We made it to the new year with Cecil still on the squad, then I wondered again if he was gone when the Cardinals signed Andrew Miller. But no, the Cardinals have too much pride to give up on a contract of Cecil’s size. So he gets another chance.

Taking a look back at how Cecil did in 2018, I will give you four stats. -1.0 WAR, 6.89 ERA, 6.9 BB/9, 5.2 K/9. Ouch. It burns my hands to type those numbers. There is no way to spin those numbers to argue that any aspect of Cecil’s 2018 was where he wanted to be.

To be completely fair, Cecil did deal with a lot of injuries in 2018. He was out for three weeks with foot inflammation as well as left shoulder inflammation. Health is the most important thing for any player (see- Marcell Ozuna) but this last season was just a bad look after a mediocre 2017 as well.

Hopefully this offseason has been a good time for Cecil to reset and get healthy. There has been talk that he is in the best shape of his life, which every player says every year at this time, but it’s some sort of positive development. Let’s see what ZiPS thinks for 2019.

Brett Cecil 4.475344.33.86930.1

These numbers are not worth the $7.75M the Cardinals are paying him, but it’s a good bit of improvement from 2018, so there’s at least some reason to be happier. The Cardinals are contractually obligated to pay Cecil both in 2019 and 2020 and it seems they won’t cut him outright at this point so we might as well root for him to regain form in 2019.

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As far as what ‘regain form’ really means, your guess is as good as mine. If he reverts back to what he was in 2017, I still think the Cardinals should cut him. They aren’t going to, but for what he is making that is still way too much money. For this deal to end up being worth it at all for the Cardinals, they need Cecil to perform how he did back when he wasn’t with the Blue Jays.

My bet, I would guess that the absolute ceiling for Cecil is to slightly overperform the ZiPS projections, provided he stays healthy.

My Prediction: 4.10 ERA, 55 G, 50 IP, 3.90 BB/9, 94 ERA+ 0.4 WAR

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Brett Cecil is definitely the second biggest dead-money contract that the St. Louis Cardinals have on the books. Nobody is going to take Cecil in a trade unless the Cardinals take back another bad contract. The cherry on top there is that Cecil’s four year deal included a full no trade clause. Whoopee. Hopefully Cecil finds a role in which he can provide value to the club in 2019.