Pitcher Jenrry Mejia was released Tuesday by the New York Mets after serving three drug suspensions. He was the first person banned from Major League Baseball for violating the league’s substance abuse policy three times.
Mejia, 29, was told in July by baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred that he could return to the big leagues in 2019, however.
Mejia, a right-hander from the Dominican Republic, was suspended for life on Feb. 12, 2016, after his third positive test for a banned steroid.
The drug agreement allowed him to apply a year later for reinstatement that would be effective a minimum of two years after the ban started, with the decision at the commissioner's discretion.
Mejia was the Mets' closer in 2014 and was suspended for 80 games on April 11, 2015, following a positive test for Stanozolol, a drug popular among bodybuilders.
At the time, he maintained, "I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system."
Mejia returned on July 12, appeared in seven games for New York, then was banned for 162 games on July 28 after a positive test for Stanozolol and Boldenone.
The third suspension was for a positive test for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid generally used by veterinarians on horses.
Mejia is 9-14 with a 3.68 ERA in 18 starts and 95 relief appearances. In addition to random drug tests, he is subject annually to six additional urine tests and three additional blood tests.
He has four years, 140 days of major league service and would have been eligible for salary arbitration. The Mets could have tried to cut his salary to $1,383,200 had he remained on the roster.