A piece of news that has been lost in the New York Mets’ disastrous season is the fact that one time closer Jenrry Mejia was granted reinstatement after being banned for life for steroid use. Mejia is eligible to play in the big leagues again in 2019, so the Mets have been permitted to let him pitch in minor league games this year in order to get into shape for spring training. The first of those appearances came this week for the Mets’ Dominican Summer League affiliate, where Mejia worked four scoreless innings and struck out three, MetsMerized’s Michael Mayer reports.
Mejia allowed only one base hit in those four innings of work, and it will be interesting to see how the Mets view him entering next season. At one point Mejia was the Mets’ closer of the future before getting slapped with an 80 game steroid suspension at the beginning of the 2015 season, allowing his role to get usurped by Jeurys Familia. Mejia came back in the middle of that season and appeared in only a handful of games before getting suspended again, earning a 162 game ban. In the midst of serving that ban, Mejia tested positive for steroids again, earning the lifetime ban. Mejia has done everything the league has asked of him and his application for conditional reinstatement was granted on July 6th, giving him permission to rehab for the Mets this season and resume his career next season.
The Mets are in desperate need of help in the back of the bullpen, and Mejia could be a cheap option to do so next winter. The only certainties in next year’s bullpen are Anthony Swarzak and Robert Gsellman, although Seth Lugo could be in the mix as well if the Mets decide not to put him back in the rotation. Mejia has closing experience, recording 28 saves while pitching to a 3.73 ERA in 2014, but he could be more effective as a setup type of guy. If the Mets feel that Mejia will be able to contribute to their bullpen next season, it could cross one item off their shopping list, potentially allowing them to only add two relievers to the big league bullpen this winter instead of three. There is a big difference between getting out hitters in the Dominican Summer League and the majors, especially after a layoff of nearly four full years. Mejia will be 29 years old next season, so it remains possible that he could have a revival after being given an improbable second chance by Major League Baseball.