Strop, Reds Agree to One-Year Deal

The Cincinnati Reds began the week by signing outfielder Nick Castellanos to a four-year, $64 million contract. After adding four players (Moustakas, Miley, Akiyama, and Castellanos) this offseason to contracts that total around $164 million, were the Reds tapped out on spending?

Turns out, they still had some money in the bank.

MLB insider Hector Gomez reported Thursday that former Chicago Cubs right-hander Pedro Strop was in agreement with the Cincinnati Reds on a one-year, $1.825 million contract.

It was also being reported that there are performance bonuses and incentives that could raise the total value of the deal to $3.5 million. It appears that it will strictly be a one-year contract.

The bullpen was considered the weakest area of the roster after the Reds brought in the four names mentioned above. The team has made several relief moves throughout the offseason, such as the additions of left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle and right-handers Nate Jones, Tyler Thornburg, and David Carpenter.

With the signing, Cincinnati has a quietly potent bullpen now with Strop, Michael Lorenzen, lefty Amir Garrett and Raisel Iglesias leading the relief options.

Strop offers the most promise out of the other relief additions the Reds have made this offseason. He spent the last seven seasons with the division-rival Chicago Cubs and was a part of their bullpen throughout their runs in several postseasons, including pitching in three games of the 2016 World Series. 

In those seven seasons with the Cubs, Strop pitched to a 2.90 earned run average. He accumulated 425 strikeouts over 373.0 innings pitched.

Strop also had an ERA less than 2.91 from 2014 to 2018. His 2019 season was a bit out of the norm for him, however.

Notably, Strop’s 2019 ERA ballooned to 4.97 after that remarkable run of five seasons. His HR/9 more than doubled from 0.6 in 2018 to 1.3, but it is worth mentioning that Strop pitched in only 41.2 innings, his fewest since 2016. Additionally, many teams throughout Major League Baseball saw a spike in home runs both allowed and hit.

Strop also dealt with injuries this past season. He had a hamstring strain that cost him some time on the injured list. 

He will be entering his age-35 season but will work with Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, who is noted for his knowledge in pitching. Johnson may be able to help Strop turn it around from a season ago, given that Strop is healthy. 

Reds fans may have mixed feelings about the addition of Strop, however. Last June 29, Strop was a part of the benches-clearing incident when he hit Yasiel Puig with a pitch on a 3-0 count. Puig may have been fired up at that moment because Javier Baez hit a grand slam to right field the half-inning prior, and as Baez rounded first base he looked out to where Puig was playing and motioned with his hand behind his head, signaling to Puig to “back up.”

Nonetheless, should Cincinnati perform the way they expect to after spending big on free agents and making moves that have generated buzz within the fanbase, Strop could prove that he is still the impressive relief option that both Reds fans and coaches can trust.

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