NEW YORK -- Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia has been granted conditional reinstatement from his lifetime drug suspension and could return for the 2019 season.
Mejia became the first player suspended for life under Major League Baseball's drug program in February 2016 following his third positive test. He was allowed to apply for reinstatement one year later.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday that Mejia may participate in non-public workouts in the team's facilities after the All-Star break and will be eligible for a minor league rehabilitation assignment in mid-August.
Manfred met with Mejia last year, after the application for reinstatement was submitted.
"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 [drug] program going forward," Manfred said in a statement. "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."
A right-hander who turns 29 in October, Mejia was the Mets' closer in 2014, then was suspended for 80 games in April 2015 following a positive test for stanozolol, a drug popular among bodybuilders. At the time, he said, "I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system."
Mejia returned July 12, 2015, appeared in seven games for New York, then was banned for 162 games later that month after a positive test for stanozolol and boldenone. The third suspension was for a positive test for boldenone.
"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 issued through the players' association. "Baseball is my profession, my passion and my life, and for those mistakes I am truly sorry."
A Dominican signed by the Mets in 2007, Mejia reached the major leagues in 2010 and became their closer in 2014, when he had 28 saves in 31 chances. He is 9-14 with a 3.68 ERA in 18 starts and 95 relief appearances.
He has four years, 140 days of major league service and would be eligible for salary arbitration twice before becoming eligible for free agency.
"We appreciate his regret and renewed commitment to comply moving forward," the Mets said in a statement. "We will evaluate his progress on the field and assess the situation and our options in the coming months."