Notes: Strop elects free agency; Arrieta

May 5th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The Cubs do not currently have a place in their big league bullpen for long-time reliever . With the Minor League season underway, the veteran reliever had a choice to make about his future with the North Siders.

On Wednesday, the Cubs announced that Strop elected to become a free agent, giving him a chance to take some more time to weigh his options rather than head to Triple-A Iowa. There were no hard feelings for either side and Chicago remains open to bringing Strop back in some capacity.

"I hope so. We wish Stropy the best," Cubs manager David Ross said prior to Wednesday's game against the Dodgers. "It was nice to have him around. He just puts a smile on my face. From the day I first met him coming over here in 2015, he's a guy, you walk into the locker room and he's electric, man. His personality lights up a room.

"He's a fun guy to be around. He's a very talented pitcher. I'm very thankful for a lot of things that Pedro's brought into my life and our friendship. I hope at some point, we'll reconnect. It was nice to connect with him now and I hope he's doing well at home."

Strop, 35, appeared in two games earlier this season for the Cubs, who had multiple relievers on the injured list at the time. The righty did not allow a run in two innings, giving him a 2.88 ERA in 413 career relief appearances for Chicago in parts of eight seasons.

Strop ranks sixth in franchise history in games pitched and boasts the lowest ERA in Cubs history among the four pitchers (Lee Smith, Carlos Marmol and Don Elston being the others) with at least 400 relief appearances. The righty also had a 2.12 ERA for Chicago in 20 career playoff games, including three scoreless outings in the 2016 World Series.

During Spring Training, when Strop rejoined the Cubs on a Minor League contract, he said he would "definitely" be open to working for the team after his playing days.

"I will be willing to do anything for that organization," Strop said at the time. "I owe them a lot, so I think that whenever I'm done playing, whatever I can help for their development, I'm going to be willing to do it."

Arrieta aiming for return in Detroit
Cubs starter is optimistic that he will only require the minimum 10 days on the injured list before returning to the rotation. That means the righty could make his next start on May 14 against the Tigers.

"It's definitely the right decision," Arrieta said of being placed on the IL Tuesday with a right thumb abrasion.

With multiple off-days coming up (Thursday, Monday and May 13), Arrieta may only need to miss one start due to the issue. It flared ahead of his outing in Cincinnati on Friday and remained problematic when the veteran tested things out in a bullpen session on Monday.

"Really just wasn't able to apply the pressure necessary on, really, any of my pitches," Arrieta said. "If I can't do that, there's really no sense in going out there."

Worth noting

• With an off-day looming Thursday, Ross gave first baseman a day out of the starting lineup Wednesday against the Dodgers. Rizzo entered Wednesday with a team-high 256 innings played, which also ranked first among MLB first basemen.

• Ross noted that outfielder , who sustained a rib contusion in a collision with Nico Hoerner on Sunday, is available off the bench. That said, the manager viewed Happ as "the last guy" available, as the Cubs would like to give Happ some more recovery time.

• The Cubs activated righty from MLB's COVID-19 related IL on Wednesday and assigned him to Triple-A Iowa. Miller will remain in Arizona for the time being as he continues to work through a buildup throwing program

• In order to add Miller to the 40-man roster, the Cubs transferred catcher (left wrist) to the 60-day IL.

Down on the farm
Shortstop , who was selected in the first round by the Cubs in last summer's MLB Draft, made his pro debut on Tuesday with Low A Myrtle Beach. Howard (No. 5 on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Cubs prospects list) went 1-for-4 with an RBI single.

"Something my mother always told me growing up was, 'Whenever you get the butterflies, just make sure they fly in formation.'" -- Rookie lefty , on controlling emotions on the field