Pedro Strop: Cubs ‘tried hard to bring me back,’ but offer fell short because of ‘salary cap’

“They wanted to try to stay below [the luxury tax threshold],” said the veteran reliever whose $1.825-million deal with the Reds is close to the combined total for both major-league free agent contracts the Cubs added this winter. “Now it’s time to turn the page and try to win here.”

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Pedro Strop can’t even get his hat far enough to the left in his new uniform.

Pedro Strop can’t even get his hat far enough to the left in his new uniform.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Pedro Strop never wanted to leave the Cubs, but at the end of the winter, they couldn’t match even the modest $1.825 million deal he got from the rival Reds.

“They did try hard to bring me back. It’s just money-wise, they couldn’t, because they weren’t allowed [with] all the salary cap stuff; they wanted to try to stay below,” Strop said of baseball’s luxury-tax threshold after pitching a scoreless inning against his old friends.

“You could see they haven’t signed anybody over $1 million. I don’t feel bad, like, ‘Oh, they don’t want me no more,’ because they were there. They made me feel good. Even when I didn’t have my best year, they tried to bring me back.

“Now it’s time to turn the page and try to win here.”

The budget-strapped Cubs — one of three teams to exceed the tax threshold last year — signed only two free agents to major-league deals over the winter for a combined total of barely what Strop makes. That included $850,000 for what appeared to be their next-choice reliever, Jeremy Jeffress.

Was that their offer to Strop?

“I don’t want to give so much details about that, but like I told you before, they haven’t done more than $1 million,” he said. “So you can throw your numbers in there.”

Strop, who constantly talked and laughed with former teammates during and between getting them out Wednesday, said “it felt so weird” facing them and clearly never wanted to leave.

He likes his new teammates and said the transition has been easy to make but admitted: “When I first signed with them, ‘I was like [guttural sound of dissatisfaction], what am I going to do now?’

“It’s just been so long with the same team, and a lot of great moments with the Cubs,” he added. “But it’s been easy. Great group of guys also here. And I’m really glad and happy to be here and help them to win.”

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