The "Lifetime" Ban of Jenrry Mejia


The Boston Red Sox are in Ft. Myers, Florida for 2019 Spring Training.  The team has been underway with full squad workouts and the Sox played their annual game against Northeastern.  One of the focuses on the club will be the bullpen.  The Red Sox have an intriguing player in camp, one with major league experience and upside if he were to make the roster.

April 11, 2015, July 28, 2015, and Feb. 12, 2016, are the three dates that former New York Mets closer Jenrry Mejia was suspended for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.  Three positives tests in 10 months left Mejia banned from baseball, for life.

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Well, so we thought.

The Red Sox signed Mejia to a minor league pact on January 29th, 2019.  If he were to be added to the 40 man roster, Mejia would earn $625, 000 for the Red Sox.  Per the collective bargaining agreement and the league’s joint drug agreement, any player with a lifetime ban is eligible to apply for reinstatement to the league.  Mejia reapplied, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred reinstated Mejia.  The reinstatement allowed Mejia to effectively become a free agent.  That’s where Dave Dombrowski and the Boston Red Sox come into the picture.

“He pitched last season and was free from PEDs. We are hopeful that he has learned from his past mistakes” Dombrowski stated when asked about Mejia.  If this were to pan out for Boston, Mejia is an option for the 9th inning closer’s role previously held by Craig Kimbrel.
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The Red Sox have approached building a bullpen this offseason with low risk, high reward players.  Players like Colten Brewer, Zach Putnam, Brian Ellington and Erasmo Ramirez are all names that could secure a role and a roster spot as the team heads north.  Jenrry Mejia may have an opportunity to join that group.

Mejia, 29, signed with the Mets as an International free agent back in 2007.  He made his MLB debut in 2010 and was the Mets 9th inning man in ‘14.  Then he was suspended.  Mejia is the first player in MLB history to receive such a ban.

His reinstatement did not come with much fanfare as many around the league were questioning why Dave Dombrowski would sign a player with this baggage.  Free agent reliever Peter Moylan tweeted “How’s my offseason going?  This guy had a lifetime ban and still signed before me. #wtf”.  Mejia has not appeared in a big league game since 2015, so Moylan has an argument to be made.  Moylan, 40, is still an unrestricted free agent.

But back to my initial statement on the approach to Dombrowski building his bullpen.  Low risk, high reward.  Mejia’s pact with the Sox does not include an invitation to the major league spring training camp.  Mejia has not been in baseball since 2015, and he will likely get a look at minor league camp and then shift to Pawtucket.

Mejia throws five pitches; his cut fastball is his go to pitch.  He has had Tommy John surgery in the past, which ultimately changed his arm angle and mechanics.

Given the state of the Red Sox luxury tax situation, the Red Sox are approaching free agency for low risk options.  Mejia fits that mold and can be released with no major future compensation owed.

Jenrry Mejia is not the only player to receive a lifetime ban from baseball.  In 1989, Pete Rose was banned from MLB baseball for betting on sports by then Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti.  Rose, who is one of the greatest players in history of baseball, also owns the title of having the most hits in baseball with 4,256.  Rose is not eligible for Cooperstown while he is serving the lifetime ban from baseball.

Current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has denied Rose’s request to be reinstated to Major League Baseball.  Manfred wrote about his decision stating, "It is not part of my authority of responsibility here to make any determination concerning Mr. Rose's eligibility as a candidate for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  In fact, in my view, the considerations that should drive a decision on whether an individual should be allowed to work in Baseball are not the same as those that should drive a decision on Hall of Fame eligibility. … Thus, any debate over Mr. Rose's eligibility for the Hall of Fame is one that must take place in a different forum."

Jenrry Mejia has apologized for his suspensions and is looking to put this dark cloud behind him.  He now has an opportunity with the Red Sox to revitalize his career and help the Red Sox defend their World Series crown.

Mejia can provide valuable depth in Pawtucket.  You can never have enough pitching depth.  His lifetime ban aside, this move could provide huge dividends for Alex Cora as the season progresses.  If Mejia does get that call to Boston you know full well more players like Moylan will become vocal.  But can you blame them?

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisHenrique
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Boston Sports Syndicate: The "Lifetime" Ban of Jenrry Mejia
The "Lifetime" Ban of Jenrry Mejia
Boston Sports Syndicate
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