Jenrry Mejia’s lifetime ban from baseball is over.
Major League Baseball announced Friday that Mets reliever Mejia, who was banned permanently in February 2016 after three positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs, can be reinstated from the restricted list for spring training.
Mejia, 28, will be allowed to participate in non-public workouts at Mets facilities starting after the All-Star break. In mid-August, he will be eligible to go on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment. Then — if Mejia complies with publicly unspecified conditions agreed upon by him, MLB and the players association — he can return for camp come February.
“I’ve had a long, difficult time away from the game to contemplate the mistakes I’ve made both with regard to my positive drug tests and also the false allegations I made about Major League Baseball’s investigation into my testing history,” Mejia said in a statement released through the MLB Players Association. “Baseball is my profession, my passion and my life, and for those mistakes I am truly sorry.”
Mejia received an 80-game ban in April 2015 after a positive test for stanozolol, a drug popular among bodybuilders, and admitted then that he took a banned substance. That July, another positive test — for stanozolol as well as boldenone, an anabolic androgenic steroid — earned him a 162-game suspension. In February 2016, a third positive test earned him the lifetime ban. Mejia said in March 2016 that MLB was conducting a witch hunt against him after he did not provide information that would incriminate another player.
Under MLB and the MLBPA’s collectively bargained joint drug program, a permanently suspended player can apply to be reinstated after two years, at the discretion of commissioner Rob Manfred. Manfred said in a statement that after meeting with Mejia as part of his reinstatement application, an apologetic Mejia convinced him to allow him to return.
“Mr. Mejia expressed regret for poor choices he made in the past and assured me that, if reinstated, he would adhere to the terms of the program,” Manfred said. “In light of Mr. Mejia’s contrition, his commitment to comply with the program in the future, and the fact that he will have already spent almost four consecutive years suspended without pay, I have decided to grant Mr. Mejia a final chance to resume his professional career.”
It’s not clear to what degree the Mets will have Mejia participate in the baseball activities for which he is eligible. They said in a statement: “We appreciate [Mejia’s] regret and renewed commitment to comply moving forward. We will evaluate his progress on the field and assess the situation and our options in the coming months.”
The Mets and Mejia agreed to a one-year, $1.729-million contract in January, but Mejia will not be paid this season because he still is on the restricted list. He has four years and 140 days of service time and is under team control through 2020.
He pitched in 113 games for the Mets from 2010-15, posting a 3.68 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. He had a 3.65 ERA in 2014, when he spent most of the year as the team’s closer and collected 28 saves.
In the 2016-17 and 2017-18 offseasons, he pitched in the Dominican and Venezuelan winter leagues.