New York Mets’ relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia has received a lifetime suspension from Major League Baseball (MLB) after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs for the third time, the league announced on Friday.
With this suspension — Mejia’s third in the past year — he becomes the first player in MLB history to receive a lifetime ban under the league’s “three strikes and you’re out” policy in regards to PED’s. Mejia reportedly tested positive for boldenone, an anabolic steroid.
According to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, the 26-year-old Mejia will have the option to apply for reinstatement with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in one year. If Mejia is successful in getting himself reinstated, the right-hander will have to sit out an additional two seasons before he’s eligible to play either major or minor league baseball. The earliest that Mejia can play organized baseball is 2018.
“We were deeply disappointed to hear that Jenrry has again violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the Mets said in a statement. “We fully support MLB’s policy toward eliminating performance-enhancing substances from the sport. As per the Joint Drug Program, we will have no further comment on this suspension.”
Mejia’s first suspension, an 80-game ban, came down last April shortly after he was placed on the disabled list due to elbow inflammation. The Dominican righty served the suspension and returned in July, but his comeback lasted a mere seven appearance as he was suspended for 162 games in late July last year, testing positive for stanozolol and Boldenone. While Mejia did himself no favors with the two suspensions, the Mets decided to take a chance on their homegrown pitcher.
Last month, the Mets and Mejia agreed to a one-year, $2.47 million deal, per ESPN. As noted by the New York Post, Mejia’s actual 2016 salary would have been $958,000 as he still had 99 games to serve on his second suspension. He was expected to return in late July this upcoming season and provide the Mets with some depth in the bullpen.
However, Mejia is claiming that he’s innocent of any wrongdoing. Speaking to Dominican journalist Hector Gomez, Mejia says that he will appeal the decision.
“It’s not like they [MLB] say, I’m sure I did not use anything,” said Mejia, who has been pitching in winter ball in his native Dominican Republic this offseason. “I will appeal. Win or lose, I have a lot of faith. I have to clear my name. … I will not stand idly by. I will take this case to the bitter end.”
Pitching for the Mets in five of the past six seasons, Mejia experienced his first sustained success during the 2014 season. After beginning the year in the rotation, Mejia shifted to the bullpen where he notched 28 saves. In 63 games (seven starts) that year, Mejia finished 6-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 93-and-two-third innings.
Mejia will not be allowed to play in other countries who have MLB affiliated organizations. Those countries include Japan, South Korea, and Mexico, as MLB suspensions are honored there, per Adam Rubin. Therefore, Mejia’s only two options are playing in winter ball or latching on with an independent team that is not affiliated with MLB. However, independent teams may choose to honor MLB’s suspension.
While it was a safe bet before this latest development, Mejia’s lifetime ban means that he’s likely thrown his last pitch with the Mets’ organization. Barring a reinstatement, some persistence, and a clean track record from this point forward, Mejia’s once promising MLB career is likely done.
[Featured Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]