In flurry of roster moves, Cubs make Pedro Strop signing official and add Billy Hamilton
Cubs fans, get ready to tilt your hats to the left.
Pedro Strop is returning to the Cubs, as the team announced a minor-league deal with the veteran reliever Monday.
He will report to the alternate training site in South Bend and work to “get back to major-league form where he can help us out,” David Ross said.
The Cubs also officially added utility infielder Idelmaro Vargas to the active roster after he was claimed off waivers over the weekend. On top of that, the team claimed speedster Billy Hamilton off waivers from the Mets, though he is not yet with the team in Chicago.
To make room for Vargas on the 28-man roster, left-handed pitcher Matt Dermody was optioned down to the minors and then designated for assignment to create an opening on the 40-man roster for Hamilton.
The team also announced veteran catcher Jose Lobaton was released (he was at the alternate site in South Bend) and right-handed pitcher Duncan Robinson was added to the 60-man player pool.
Hamilton turns 30 Wednesday and has been one of the game’s premier basestealers over the last few seasons, with 302 swipes since he entered the league in 2013. He’s also a fantastic defensive outfielder, thanks in large part to his speed.
Down the stretch, Hamilton provides the Cubs a dynamic weapon as a pinch-running specialist or defensive replacement and represents more depth in the outfield.
Strop, 35, spent the last seven seasons in Chicago, posting a 2.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 29 saves. He is currently the franchise leader in holds with 120, way ahead of the next pitcher on the list (Carlos Marmol — 83).
He also ranks 6th all time in appearances in a Cubs uniform with 411 outings.
Strop signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds in February and was released Aug. 31. He allowed only 1 run in his 4 appearances with the Reds, but did walk 6 batters in 2.1 innings before suffering a groin injury.
The Cubs have only 18 games remaining on their schedule and while there’s no guarantee he’ll make an impact in the Chicago bullpen, Strop represents valuable insurance at the alternate site.
He was a popular player in the clubhouse during his tenure in Chicago and became one of the most reliable relievers in the game before hamstring injuries marred his last season-plus with the Cubs.
“Pedro’s been a big part of this group,” Ross said. “One of my favorite teammates I’ve ever had. I mean, this guy is infectious. His personality, the way he carries himself, the way he works, he can really affect the room.
“But ultimately the goal was to get him back to being able to help us on the field — that’s first and foremost. And then obviously all those benefits come with him.”