Mets planning to bring back Jenrry Mejia in 2016


NEW YORK -- Reliever Jenrry Mejia greatly disappointed the New York Mets when he twice tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2015. Still, team officials plan to have the arbitration-eligible Mejia remain a part of the organization for next season rather than non-tender him at Wednesday's deadline.

Mejia, 26, was due to earn $2.595 million this past season. He received only a prorated portion for the three weeks he was active in July between suspensions.

By rule, arbitration-eligible players who are tendered contracts must receive at least 80 percent of their previous year's salary -- or a minimum of $2.076 million in Mejia's case. Mejia could even receive the identical $2.595 million salary in 2016, depending on how the sides settle or what an arbitrator decides.

Still, Mejia will collect salary for only the prorated portion of time after his suspension is served.

He was handed a 162-game suspension on July 29. That suspension came with 62 games remaining in the Mets season, so Mejia still has 100 games to serve in 2016. As a result, the Mets will have to pay Mejia less than 40 percent of his actual salary next season -- no more than about $1 million.

Apparently, the club deems that expenditure worthwhile for the potential Mejia provides, despite the former closer's transgressions.

Mejia will be eligible for the 2016 postseason.

He is not eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season provided the Mets continue to tender contracts each December.

Mejia is working as a starting pitcher for Licey in the Dominican winter league. He is 1-3 with a 4.09 ERA in seven starts. Opponents are hitting .287 against him. He has 20 strikeouts, eight walks and four wild pitches in 33 innings.

The Mets in recent weeks have been leaning strongly toward non-tendering Ruben Tejada, who otherwise could earn in excess of $3 million as a backup middle infielder (coming off a fractured fibula in his right leg for the second time). A final verdict will be known Wednesday.