Cubs sign Pedro Strop to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration

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The Cubs and 28-year-old reliever Pedro Strop have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal worth $1.325 million, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. This was Strop’s first year of arbitration eligibility.

The Cubs acquired Strop along with Jake Arrieta in a trade with the Orioles on July 2 last season. They sent Scott Feldman and Steve Clevinger to Baltimore. While Strop was awful in relief for the Orioles, posting a 7.25 ERA in 22 1/3 innings prior to the trade, he had much better results with the Cubs. In 35 innings with his new club, Strop posted a 2.83 ERA with a slight bump in his strikeout rate and markedly better control.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.