New York Yankees pitcher Cody Eppley pitches against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas

Yankees keep playing the claim game

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This used to be the province of the Blue Jays. However, this year, the Yankees have taken over as the king of the waiver wire. Since the end of March, they’ve grabbed all of the following off waivers:

March 28 – C Craig Tatum
April 5 – RHP Cody Eppley
May 12 – LHP Justin Thomas
May 17 – 2B Matt Antonelli
May 29 – RHP Ryota Igarashi
June 26 – RHP Danny Farquhar
June 29 – RHP Chris Schwinden

Of the six players picked up prior to today, only Eppley and Igarashi remain on the 40-man roster. Farquhar, who was picked up from the A’s on Tuesday, was dropped today to open up a spot for Schwinder. For Schwinden, it’s the third time he’s been claimed he’s been claimed off waivers in a month: he went from the Mets to the Blue Jays on June 2 and then to the Indians four days later.

Still, regardless of what happens with the rest of these guys, the Yankees have already gotten their money’s worth for the group with Eppley, who has a 2.89 ERA in 18 2/3 innings to date. That’s because the waiver price remains $25,000, just as it has been for decades, providing no disincentive for teams engaging in this kind of behavior. I’ve always thought it odd that more teams don’t keep a 40-man roster spot “open” for these purposes. A team can simply claim a player and immediately drop him from the 40-man; if he gets picked up by someone else, the team still hasn’t lost anything. If he doesn’t, it’s pretty much a free player.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.