Eleven months ago and fresh off a 28-save season, Jenrry Mejia was the closer for the New York Mets and scheduled to earn $2.595 million. Today he is permanently banned from baseball. It was an unprecedented and almost unfathomable fall. In those 11 months, Mejia flunked three drug tests, and in each of those tests he tested positive for an anabolic steroid. He becomes the first player thrown out of the game under the three-strikes-and-you’re-out performance-enhancing drug policy.
The latest failure, announced Friday by Major League Baseball, was almost as stunning for the drug found in his system as for the recidivism. Mejia, 26, tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid designed for use in horses and cattle with no legal indication for human use. Boldenone has a long detection period in the body, typically measured in months. It has been used in racehorses to improve performance and aid in recovery and also found use among powerlifters because of its reputation for lean muscle gains.
According to MLB figures, of the 115 failed drug tests in the minor and major leagues since January 2015, there have been only two positive tests for Boldenone—both by Mejia. The pitcher’s other failed test involved Stanozolol.
Under the Joint Drug Agreement, Mejia can apply for reinstatement a year from now, but even if successful, he must serve a minimum of two years out of the game.
Mejia already had lost virtually all of his $2.595 million salary last year and about $900,000 of his $2.47 million salary this year while sitting out the 99 games left on his second suspension. Now the entirety of his 2016 salary is gone. Had Mejia remained clean and pitched well this year, he might have commanded about $9 million over his next two arbitration-eligible seasons. As a free agent at age 28 after the 2018 season, he could have been in line for a contract similar to the $31 million, three-year deal signed this winter by Joakim Soria, a pitcher with a similar profile. The cost of using PEDs: about $47 million in potential earnings.