The Chicago Cubs bullpen competition is extraordinarily robust this year, with upwards of 20 plausible names to fit into just 8 or 9 spots on Opening Day. You wouldn’t necessarily bet on a 35-year-old who is a couple years removed from his last productive season winning one of those few spots. But when Pedro Strop was right, he was SO right. He’s earned this chance.
Either way, Strop is happy to be back home.
“Man, it’s always fun when you go home,” Strop told Cubs.com. “That’s what I consider the Cubs. This is my home. This is my house. To come over and see my guys, my teammates and the staff, I’m just so happy to be back here.”
Strop, who lost 20 pounds in the offseason to try to avoid the injuries that have hampered him the last couple years, was joking with reporters about the video he posted of his 12-year-old son roping one off of him: “Somebody told me something funny. It was like, ‘Hey, you know why you didn’t sign quicker? Because you posted videos of your son taking you deep.’ I think that’s true, man. I didn’t think about that. That day, I was so excited. That’s the first time I’ve ever been happy to give up a hit like that.” Of course Strop was letting out his incredible laugh as he told the story.
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Strop, who came to the Cubs in the “Jake Arrieta trade,” was consistently one of the team’s top relievers from 2013-2018, and his 5.7 WAR with the Cubs trails only Carlos Marmol’s 6.8 in modern-style relievers (Bruce Sutter and Lee Smith are waaaay ahead, but the relief role was quite different at that time).
Strop is not a “mascot” signing, and he shouldn’t be regarded as such. He’s trying to extend his career, contribute to the Cubs bullpen, and continue his legacy as one of the best relievers in team history. But if it doesn’t play out that way – or if he does contribute and then later hangs ’em up – Strop is ready to contribute to the organization however he can.
“If the organization wants me to stay around and do something for them, I’m definitely going to accept it after I’m done playing,” Strop said, per The Athletic. “I don’t have anything planned or set like, ‘Oh, I want to play two more, three more, four more (seasons).’ I will be willing to do anything for this organization. I owe them a lot. Whenever I’m done playing, however I can help for their development, I’m going to be willing to do it.”
That’s quite an offer from a guy who is as well-liked and well-respected as Strop. For now, though, I kinda hope he’s physically gotten himself right, and could maybe surprise as a contributor this year. Would be nice to see him and Arrieta return in the same year and put a nice little run together, wouldn’t it?