Arrieta was the main target for the Cubs in the trade. The 27-year-old starting pitcher has always had elite talent, but just never put it together at the major league level. Arrieta has performed very well since being acquired by the Cubs mostly in Triple-A, but Strop has proved to be much more than a throw-in piece in the trade.
The 28-year-old has been fantastic since arriving in Chicago. He has only allowed five earned runs, eight hits and six walks in 17 innings with the Cubs. He has also struck out 20 batters. Strop has always had great stuff. He throws a mid-90s fastball that has some movement and a slider that is becoming a nice strikeout pitch.
The knock on Strop is his inability to throw strikes at times. His pure stuff allows him to get away with his wildness at times, like in 2012 with the Orioles. Strop had 5.02 walks per nine innings last season but only a 2.44 ERA. It did not work out as well for the right-hander this season. Strop had 6.04 walks per nine innings before being traded to Chicago, and his ERA was a horrendous 7.25.
He has pitched much better since being traded and now looks like a viable option to be the closer for the 2014 Cubs.
Current Cubs closer Kevin Gregg has pitched well in the role, racking up 25 saves with a 2.98 ERA. However, he is a free agent at the end of the season and at the age of 35, he does not offer much upside for the future of the organization. Strop, on the other hand, has huge upside, and I think could really flourish in the closer role.
Strop has the stuff to be a closer and has handled the eighth inning role very well for the Cubs. I would like to see him get a chance to save some games down the stretch for the Cubs and see if he can handle the mental side of being a closer. If he passes that test, I see no reason why Strop cannot lead the bullpen in 2014. One thing is for sure — this trade is starting to look very promising for the Cubs.