Left-handed reliever Brett Cecil reportedly has agreed to a four-year deal with the Cardinals worth $30.5 million. (Toronto Star)

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals apparently have found their second left-hander for the bullpen – and he did not come cheap.

Although the team has not made an official announcement, multiple reports on Saturday said the Cardinals had reached agreement on a four-year deal with free agent Brett Cecil, who has spent all of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The deal reportedly is worth $30.5 million, or $7.625 million a season, making Cecil the highest paid reliever on the team. The signing will not be official until the 30-year-old Cecil passes a physical exam. The contract also reportedly includes a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals had been searching for a second left-hander to join Kevin Siegrist in the bullpen after Zach Duke underwent Tommy John surgery about a month ago, which is expected to keep him from pitching next season. Another candidate to be that second reliever, Tyler Lyons, underwent knee surgery recently and could miss the start of next season, depending on the rate of his recovery.

Considered one of the top setup relievers on this year’s free agent market, Cecil apparently was the beneficiary of competition to sign him that drove the Cardinals to guarantee a fourth season at a steep price.

After beginning his career with the Blue Jays as a starter, Cecil moved to the bullpen four seasons ago. As a reliever, he has compiled a career 2.90 ERA and averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

Cecil has limited left-handed hitters to a composite .226 average over his career.
A tear in his lat muscle forced Cecil to miss six weeks last season but over his final 20 2/3 innings, he posted a 1.74 ERA.

The Blue Jays had been interested in re-signing Cecil, and the Seattle Mariners were another team which had reportedly offered him a three-year deal.

Cecil was a first-round pick of the Blue Jays in the 2007 draft out of the University of Maryland and made his major-league debut in 2009. He was an American League All-Star in 2013.

The Cardinals will have to remove a player from their 40-man roster to open up a spot for Cecil.