Per multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs have signed reliever Pedro Strop to an extension through 2018, adding a team option for 2019.
Strop, 31, will make $5.5 million in his final arbitration year this season, and then will add $5.85 million in 2018. The Cubs get a $6.25 million team option for 2019 with a $500,000 buyout. (Sahadev Sharma)
So, then, who had “Pedro Strop” as the first Chicago Cubs extension in the last few years? That would not have been my guess, given the rising emergence of power arms in the system, and the inherent flukiness of relievers (to say nothing of Strop’s late-season injury).
… which is not to say an extension for Strop is a bad idea, of course. I can see the wisdom.
When healthy, Strop has been consistently excellent for the Chicago Cubs since coming over with Jake Arrieta in 2013, and it’s pretty easy to see why it’s nice to have a reliable, veteran, late-inning arm under control for a few more years. Consider that Wade Davis and Koji Uehara are free agents after this season, and Hector Rondon is controlled for only one more year after this season. Strop has posted three straight seasons with an ERA at 2.91 or better, an a FIP/xFIP at 3.16 or better. Consistently excellent. And it doesn’t hurt that Strop is roundly considered an excellent teammate, and a good presence in the clubhouse.
Even as the Cubs butt up against the luxury tax limit, Strop at $5 to $6 million annually sure beats having to pay 50% more than that in free agency (which is about what very good setup men have been getting lately).
In exchange for giving up those two potential free agent years, Strop locks down some additional guaranteed money – always a good thing for pitchers in their 30s.
Given that Strop was the only arbitration-eligible player to exchange figures with the Cubs this year, I presume the negotiations on this mini-extension have been underway for a while now. Perhaps the Cubs were simply waiting to see how Strop looked in Mesa before officially signing off. Whatever the case, the fact that they’re extending Strop now suggests they feel very good about his health after last season’s knee injury.
It’ll be interesting to see if this is but the first of many extensions for the Cubs this spring (but probably not for Strop’s trade-mate Arrieta), or if they will wait until they’re closer to arbitration with their young core before locking some of them up.
This is the time of year for extensions, so stay tuned.