Posted on January 30, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
Despite already putting together one of the most impressive offseasons in baseball, the Cincinnati Reds added to their haul on Thursday, agreeing to terms with reliever Pedro Strop. The one-year deal will pay Strop a base salary of $1.825 million but can be worth as much as $3.5 million with incentives. Strop will remain in the NL Central after spending the last six and a half seasons with the Cubs, during which time he was one of the most consistent relief pitchers in baseball.
The fact that the Reds got Strop is a bit of a coup. Recent reports indicated that he would ultimately decide between the Marlins and Rangers. However, Cincinnati managed to swoop in at the last minute and convince Strop to leave the Cubs for a division rival. He becomes the latest, and perhaps last, significant signing the Reds have made this winter. The list of Cincinnati’s additions also includes starter Wade Miley, new second baseman Mike Moustakas, and outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, who signed earlier this week.
Of course, the 34-year-old Strop will be trying to bounce back from a rare down year in 2019. In 50 appearances for the Cubs, he was 2-5 with a 4.97 ERA. Injuries could be blamed in part for Strop’s struggles last season. He had two different stints on the IL because of hamstring and neck issues. Strop also had to deal with Chicago’s bullpen being in a state of flux. At times, Strop was called upon to close out games, something that’s been rare for him during his career. In fact, 23 of his 32 career saves have come over the past two seasons.
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That being said, Strop spent most of the last decade being one of the most reliable setup men in baseball. He owns a 3.21 career ERA and posted an ERA under 3.00 in five consecutive seasons in Chicago from 2014 to 2018. While age and injuries are surely a concern, the Reds are banking that Strop can put his 2019 issues behind him and recapture the form he had in previous years. With a base salary under $2 million, it’s a bet worth making from Cincinnati’s perspective.
Even before they added Strop, the Reds had the makings of a solid bullpen. Raisel Iglesias is locked into the closer’s role after averaging more than 30 saves over the last three seasons. Strop will join a contingent of setup men that includes Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson, and Amir Garrett. All three posted an ERA under 4.00 last season. Lorenzen, in particular, had a 2.93 ERA and recorded seven saves when Iglesias wasn’t available.
In addition to that quartet, the Reds have veterans Tyler Thornburg and Nate Jones in spring training. Both have been quality late-inning relievers in the past. There are also several young pitchers in Cincinnati’s farm system with good upside who could find a role in the bullpen. If Strop can have a bounce-back year, he’ll add to the depth in the Cincinnati bullpen. If not, the Reds should still be in good shape.
The Reds signing Strop is a great low risk-high reward move, especially this late in the offseason. Strop was easily the best reliever left on the market, and yet the Reds were able to get him at a good price. If the move works out as intended, Strop could help elevate the Cincinnati bullpen to one of the best in the National League while doing little harm to the Reds if last year’s struggles turn out to be a sign of things to come.