Mejia suspended 162 games for positive test
Mets reliever missed 80 games earlier this season because of PEDs
NEW YORK -- In a "shock" that could spell the end of his Mets career, relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia has been suspended 162 games for a second positive performance-enhancing drug test, Major League Baseball announced Tuesday prior to New York's 4-0 victory over San Diego. His suspension is effective immediately.
Mejia, 25, had not allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings this season, almost exclusively in a setup role. He returned July 7 after missing 80 games for his first positive PED test.
"Not surprisingly, there's a tremendous amount of disappointment," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "I think to some extent, anger. To some extent, amazement that this could happen so soon after a previous suspension was completed. And some sadness, in the sense that this is having a tremendously adverse effect on a very promising Major League career. And that's a shame."
MLB announced that Mejia tested positive for Stanozolol, the same PED the league flagged on his first test, as well as Boldenone. His 162-game suspension is the longest in MLB history for a positive test, tying him with Alex Rodriguez for the longest PED-related suspension of any kind (Rodriguez's was due to his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal, not a positive test).
"I was totally shocked, incredulous, whatever the right term is that this could happen so swiftly on the heels of a past suspension," Alderson said. "I couldn't understand it."
Mejia did not comment through his agency or the MLB Players' Association. Reactions from his teammates ran the gamut of emotions that Alderson suggested: disappointment, anger, amazement and sadness.
"It's a choice," outfielder Michael Cuddyer said, referencing Mejia's prior comments that he had "no idea" how he tested positive the first time. "I don't buy into the 'mistake' thing. It's a choice."
"I honestly don't know whether there was motivation, whether it was inattention, I don't know," Alderson said. "You don't want to indict someone without all the facts. I just can't imagine what was involved."
The suspension means that Mejia, whose first positive test made him ineligible to appear in the 2015 postseason, is now disqualified from pitching at all until next July. Mejia has already lost nearly all of the $2.6 million he was due to make this year, and because he will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter, there is an extremely high chance the Mets will non-tender him at that time.
"It's something we're going to have to think about," Alderson said. "Obviously we're disappointed."
Mejia's suspension also makes the Mets' recent acquisition of former A's and Nationals closer Tyler Clippard even more significant, giving the Mets depth at the back of their bullpen. Alderson said he did not learn of Mejia's impending punishment until after the deal for Clippard was almost complete.
What the suspension will not affect is Alderson's strategy leading up to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The GM said he is done acquiring relief pitchers, meaning the Mets will proceed with a back-end trio of Jeurys Familia, Clippard and Bobby Parnell now that Mejia is no longer in the picture.
"The rules are the rules," Alderson said. "We support the rules. And this is the consequence of making bad choices."
"Baseball's a sacred game and you broke a sacred rule," Parnell said. "It takes away from the game. That's not what we're about here."