Jenrry Mejía, previously banned for life by MLB, gets second chance with Red Sox

We’ve reached the point of the baseball offseason where Jenrry Mejía has a job with a major-league team and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado do not.

This time last year, Mejía was “banned for life” by Major League Baseball after three failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs. Turns out the “for life” part wasn’t as definitive as it sounded, because Mejía was reinstated for the 2019 season by the league and Tuesday agreed to a minor-league deal with the Boston Red Sox.

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On the field, Mejía, 29, most notably saved 28 games for the New York Mets in 2014. Otherwise, his big-league career has been a mess. He was suspended in February 2015 for PEDs, then again in July. In February 2016, he was suspended for a third and final time — making him the first player ever “banned for life” under the league’s drug rules and three strikes approach. That made him one of only four living people banned for life by MLB. The other three are Pete Rose, Chris Correa (the ex-Cardinals exec who hacked the Astros) and John Coppolella (the ex-Braves GM who broke international signing rules).

At one point, the Mejía saga got so ugly that his lawyer was threatening to sue MLB, alleging that he would uncover years of corruption inside the league. That never happened and eventually, Mejía applied for reinstatement as MLB’s policy allows. He was granted that last summer, allowed to return for the 2019 season, but he was released by the Mets.

33 PHOTOS
MLB players who have switched teams over the 2018-19 offseason
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MLB players who have switched teams over the 2018-19 offseason

INF Manny Machado

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the San Diego Padres

(Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

OF Bryce Harper

Left the Washington Nationals in free agency to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

OF Yasiel Puig

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

2B DJ LeMahieu

Left the Colorado Rockies in free agency to sign with the New York Yankees

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

OF Matt Kemp

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

RHP Joe Kelly

Left the Boston Red Sox in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

C Yasmani Grandal

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

2B Robinson Cano

Traded to the New York Mets from the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

RHP Edwin Diaz

Traded to the New York Mets from the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

RHP Jeurys Familia

Left the Oakland Athletics in free agency to sign with the New York Mets

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

RF Andrew McCutchen

Left the New York Yankees in free agency to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

INF Jed Lowrie

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the New York Mets

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

RHP Ivan Nova

Traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Chicago White Sox

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

LHP Patrick Corbin

Left the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

1B Paul Goldschmidt

Traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the St. Louis Cardinals

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

SS Jean Segura

Traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion

Traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

1B Justin Bour

Left the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

1B Yonder Alonso

Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Chicago White Sox

(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

OF Michael Brantley

Left the Cleveland Indians in free agency to sign with the Houston Astros

(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

RHP Matt Harvey

Left the Cincinnati Reds in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

RHP Anibal Sanchez

Left the Atlanta Braves in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

DH Nelson Cruz

Left the Seattle Mariners in free agency to sign with the Minnesota Twins

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

RHP Kendall Graveman

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the Chicago Cubs

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

RHP Charlie Morton

Left the Houston Astros in free agency to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Outfielder Domingo Santana

Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Infielder Daniel Murphy

Left the Chicago Cubs in free agency to sign with the Colorado Rockies

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

RHP Joakim Soria

Left the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency to sign with the Oakland A's

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

RHP Andrew Miller

Left the Cleveland Indians in free agency to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

2B Jurickson Profar

Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland A's

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

RHP Trevor Cahill

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2B Brian Dozier

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

RHP Shelby Miller

Left the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency to sign with the Texas Rangers

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox are giving Mejía $625,000 if he gets to the major leagues, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said he’s hopeful Mejía has learned from his past.

If it all works out, it could actually be a great move for the Red Sox, baggage aside. They’ve said they don’t have the money for a big bullpen arm (i.e. their ex-closer Craig Kimbrel), so it’s not crazy to think that Mejía could be a big part of the bullpen in 2019 if he performs well.

Still, you can be sure the statement being sent here — a player “banned for life” getting a job before plenty of other unemployed players — was felt during the current MLB free-agent freeze.

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Mike Oz is a writer at Yahoo Sports. Contact him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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