Pedro Strop is back with the Cubs.
Whether he can regain the form that made him one of the most consistent setup men in the game for a playoff contender, the mere presence of the popular veteran could provide a boost in the clubhouse.
Sources said Friday the sides had reached agreement on a minor-league deal, pending a physical. Strop will report to alternate-site South Bend, taking the final open spot in the 60-man player pool, with an eye toward contributing down the stretch for a team with ongoing bullpen questions.
Strop, 35, was released by the Reds this week after signing a one-year, $1.825-million deal as a free agent.
He spent the previous 6 1/2 years with the Cubs, producing a 2.90 ERA in that stretch, including six consecutive seasons in which his ERA for the Cubs ranged from from 2.21 to 2.91.
More recently, he struggled with hamstring and groin injuries and never got right during a rough 2019 season (4.97 ERA in 50 appearances).
Strop pitched only four times for the Reds this season before being sidelined with a groin injury. He struck out three and walked six in 2 1/3 innings, allowing one run.
He was one of the most respected leaders and popular players among teammates during his time with the Cubs, providing the kind of presence that could pay off for the Cubs down the stretch even with modest production on the field.
Following a tough wild-card elimination against the Rockies in 2018, team president Theo Epstein lauded Strop for returning early from a leg injury to pitch a scoreless inning in pain during that game.
"He's such a big part of the heartbeat of this team," Epstein said. "I hope he can be part of this organization when he's done playing because that's how impactful he is, to the other relievers and to the team as a whole. Just a great disposition and great heart on that kid. And a great pitcher."