Reporting everywhere today that the Reds have signed right-handed reliever Pedro Strop to a contract, pending completion of a physical.
Source confirms: Free-agent reliever Pedro Strop in agreement with #Reds on one-year, $1.825M contract. Performance bonuses can raise total value to $3.5M. Represented by Movement Management Group. First reported: @hgomez27.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 30, 2020
Details of the bonuses have been reported. If Strop pitches in 60 games, which seems like a reasonable optimistic-about-health estimate, he’ll make an extra $175,000, pulling in a nice round $2 million. Seems like the plan.
Pedro Strop Deal's Performance Bonuses:
– $25,000 for 45 games pitched
– $50,000 for each 50, 55 and 60 games pitched.
– $100,000 for each 65, 70 and 75 games pitched.
– $200,000 for 40 games finished
– $250,000 for each 45, 50, 55 and 60 games finished.@z101digital @ZDeportes https://t.co/5idqv79771
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) January 30, 2020
Opening Day Payroll
Prior to signing OF Nick Castellanos earlier this week, Reds payroll had been about $126 million. That assumes $88.9M for the ten guaranteed contracts plus $30.2M for five arbitration awards and $7M for the 11 remaining roster slots paying league minimum plus courtesy raises. That totals about $126M.
Nick Castellanos signed for 4 years and $64 million. But we later learned that some of Castellanos’ salary is deferred. Only $10M counts toward the Opening Day roster (although there are certainly other ways to look at that). Adding $10M and subtracting one of the league minimum slots puts the OD payroll around $135.6M. Adding Strop’s $1.8M and subtracting a league minimum salary puts Reds payroll around $137M.
$137M would be a club record. The ’19 Opening Day payroll was around $127M. The average major league payroll in ’19 was $139M.
Opening Day Roster
Pedro Strop’s signing completes the three categories of obvious free agency moves I wrote about in mid-December. Nick Castellanos is the “big corner outfield bat,” Wade Miley the “mid-range starting pitcher,” and now Strop as the annual random dart throw at the veteran reliever board.
The Reds roster is tight. All teams can carry 26 players this year, generally 13 pitchers and 13 position players. Barring trade or injury, a plausible Opening Day roster would be (this is not a prediction, it’s an illustration):
Starting Position Players
- C – Tucker Barnhart
- 1B – Joey Votto
- 2B – Mike Moustakas
- SS – Freddy Galvis
- 3B – Eugenio Suarez
- LF – Jesse Winker
- CF – Nick Senzel
- RF – Nick Castellanos
Five Bench Slots
- C – Curt Casali
- IF – Kyle Farmer
- IF – Josh VanMeter
- OF – Phil Ervin
- OF – Shogo Akiyama
None of the bench guys is a natural shortstop. Suarez or Senzel could move there in an emergency. Alex Blandino would be one, so he could replace Farmer or VanMeter. Mark Payton (Rule 5) has to be on the Reds Opening Day roster or returned to the Oakland A’s. The former seems extremely unlikely now. Notably, this list puts Aristides Aquino and Travis Jankowski in Louisville. Aquino could replace Josh VanMeter.
- Luis Castillo
- Sonny Gray
- Trevor Bauer
- Anthony DeSclafani
- Wade Miley
- Raisel Iglesias
- Michael Lorenzen
- Amir Garrett
- Robert Stephenson
- Matt Bowman
- Lucas Sims
- Cody Reed
- Pedro Strop
This puts Tyler Mahle and Jose De Leon in Louisville as starters or swingmen. It means Joe Kuhnel, Josh Smith, Justin Shafer, Tyler Thornberg and Nate Jones didn’t make the team. Lots of competition is good. Spring Training offers an awfully small sample size to form opinions.
About Pedro Strop
Strop’s signing follows in illustrious corps of Zack Duke, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Kevin Quackenbush, Blake Wood, Drew Storen, Steve Delabar, Burke Badenhop and Kevin Gregg. The lesson being that signing veteran relievers is a crapshoot. That might be a generous characterization. Some work out, some don’t. Some never pitch for a major league team again.
Strop is 34 years old. He’s right-handed. Strop pitched for the Rangers and Orioles early in his career, but Reds fans know him best from pitching for the Cubs since 2013. He was part of the trade when the Orioles sent Jake Arrieta to the Cubs for Scott Feldman. (Nice job by the Orioles there.)
As dart throws go, this one is fine. It’s smarter to pick up a guy who pitched better than it looks from public-facing stats than the reverse. Just remember that you can’t really rely on career history for a 34-year-old pitcher. But at $2M, it’s a solid pick. Strop is no Kevin Gregg. Probably.