The Chicago Cubs signed Pedro Strop to a one-year, $5.5 million deal, avoiding arbitration as the team readies for Spring Training in Arizona.
With less than one week until the Cubs report to Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona to open Spring Training, the club can check another item off the list. In agreeing to a one-year deal with Strop, the team settled all its arbitration cases without need of a hearing.
The team’s initial offer came in at $4.6 million, while Strop’s camp countered at $6 million. The $5.5 million agreement tilts just a bit in favor of the right-hander but gives Chicago their valuable late-inning arm again for 2017.
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The 31-year-old reliever is entering his fifth season on the North Side, where he has enjoyed a great deal of success.
In over 210 innings’ worth of work with the Cubs, Strop pitched to a 2.68 earned run average and similar 2.82 FIP mark. Control has been an issue at times, but he’s missed his fair share of bats, as well – averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Last season was a mixed bag for the hard-throwing righty. While his numbers were solid, health issues sidelined Strop late in the year. He returned to put in a strong postseason performance, to the tune of three scoreless WS outings.
Underrated by many – Strop has been key
2017 may well be his last year in Chicago as this is the last year of his contract with the Cubs. Teams will have a high interest in Strop given his work over the past half decade. His devastating slider and high-90s fastball can be unhittable to opponents. That being said, they can also be uncontrollable for Strop himself – as we’ve seen over the years.
Strop’s arrival in Chicago came in one of the most lopsided trades in Chicago Cubs history. They sent Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Strop and 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.
While Arrieta garners more headlines, Strop has been an integral part of the team’s bullpen. Over the last three years, the right-hander has struck out 212, walking only 69. He, along with Hector Rondon, form one of the most underrated relief duos in the game today by many measures.
Coming off a World Series title, the Chicago Cubs are seeking to repeat for the first time since 1907-1908. The offense has its core group intact for years to come. For the team to make another deep run, however, pitching will be the key.
Arrieta and Strop are both entering contract years. It’s in their own best interest to be more dominant than ever on the mound this season. If they both do that, then big paydays could be headed their way next offseason.