MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs awarded reliever Pedro Strop with a contract extension Friday through 2018 with a club option for '19.
Earlier this month, the sides agreed to a $5.5 million contract for 2017. The extension will pay Strop $5.85 million in '18 and there is a club option for $6.25 million for '19.
The sides had talked about a one-year number during the arbitration process.
Pedro Strop agrees to contract extension with Cubs
"During that process, it was clear there was some interest on both sides in extending this relationship," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said.
Strop, 31, tore the left meniscus in his knee in early August and returned Sept. 23. He compiled a 2.85 ERA over 47 1/3 innings in 54 games. The right-hander would have been a free agent after this season.
"Pedro has been fantastic for us," Hoyer said. "He's had three excellent seasons for us, he's a great teammate, everyone likes being around him. It's exciting that he wants to be a Cub after this year. He wanted to stay here, he loves it here and we feel the same."
The Cubs acquired Strop and Jake Arrieta in July 2013 from the Orioles in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. It's worked out well for both pitchers.
"The big thing with 'Stroppy' for me is to continue to work on improved fastball command," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "There's still another level of him being better than he is. It's such a perfect fit for us. He's a perfect fit for any team. We're fortunate to have him.
"Everytime you see the guy, he's in a good mood. He's just a good baseball player."
Strop didn't want to pitch anywhere else.
"They understand I love this team and I feel a part of this and I love the fans and I love the city of Chicago," Strop said. "I'm real glad they made it happen."
Strop is one of the Cubs' key setup pitchers, but wouldn't mind closing someday. Actually, he'll do whatever they ask.
"We'll do whatever it takes to take this team to another championship season and win," Strop said. "I don't care about roles; I like to win better than roles."
Carrie Muskat/
This week at Spring Training facilities around the country, MLB stars gathered together for the annual rite of spring known as Photo Day.  
The 2008 film "Step Brothers" has remained relevant almost a decade after its release thanks to the zany comedy stylings of its co-stars, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. (Trust us, the previous two sentences are related. Just wait.)
Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth recreated the 'Step Brothers' poster at Nats Photo Day
Over at Nats camp, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth saw fit to commemorate the moment by recreating the film's movie poster, because why not, right? Anyway, it turned out really well.
Even down to the fine details, as Werth was careful to mimic Ferrell's left-hand-over-right-hand placement on Harper's right shoulder:
Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth recreated the 'Step Brothers' poster at Nats Photo Day
Did ... did they just become best friends? Judging by this photo, they already were. 
... but they obviously had fun doing so.
Adrian Garro/
Facebook is in talks with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week during the 2017 season, according to Reuters.
Both Facebook and Twitter have been aggressive in seeking the rights to sporting events with the latter offering NFL games during the 2016 season.
Facebook may live stream MLB games
Reuters writes that Facebook and MLB refused to comment for the article so it’s unclear which games might be streamed on the social media site.
MLB, which has publicly acknowledged it wants to attract more young people, could help achieve that objective by offering games on Facebook.
For Facebook, the lure of live sports could keep people on the site longer as well as attract new users who are passionate baseball fans.
Phillip Swann/
ARLINGTON, Texas -AP- Texas Rangers international scout Jose Luis Felomina has died in his native Curacao.
The team said Thursday that Felomina died following a long illness. He was 50.
Since 2008, Felomina had worked as a Rangers scout in Curacao, an island in the Caribbean Sea north of the Venezuelan coast.
Jose Luis Felomina, international scout for Rangers, dies at 50
Among the players he signed was Jurickson Profar, who last season started games at five positions in the field for Texas.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the team is truly saddened by Felomina's death. Daniels described him as a dedicated scout who was outstanding at his job and was a great asset to the organization.
Relievers are creatures of habit who often have odd rituals. However, few of those rituals rival that of Twins left-hander Ryan O’Rourke.
O’Rourke recently revealed that he vomits before almost every pitching appearance, a “tradition” that dates back to his collegiate career and resulted in minor-league grounds crews waiting with a new trash bag when he entered the game.
“It just happens,” O’Rourke told the Pioneer Press. “I’m pretty pumped up out there. I think everything is culminating as I’m getting ready for my big moment, whether it’s energy or what. I like the competitive aspect. I think this is just a way for me to release a little bit of my nerves.”
Twins reliever proudly admits he might have the majors’ most disgusting ritual
O’Rourke explains that he doesn’t do the deed where fans can see him and noted that hoops Hall of Famer Bill Russell also had a nervous stomach before big games in his career, which included 11 NBA championships.
Understandably, teammates might not be too eager to have a locker near O’Rourke or even sit near him in the bullpen. Take Twins starter Phil Hughes, 
In 26 appearances last season, O’Rourke posted a 3.96 ERA and 1.12 WHIP and struck out 24 batters in 25 innings. And, of course, he likely lost his lunch 26 times.
Spring training afternoons feature plenty of free time for players, especially before the Grapefruit and Cactus League games begin.
Many play golf and others apparently go hunting for sharks.
Mets lefty Steven Matz joined teammate Sean Gilmartin on a fishing excursion Tuesday and got a little more than he bargained for in the process. And we’re sure the Mets took a couple of deep breaths after seeing this:
Steven Matz caught a huge shark and has frightening photo to prove it
Who says spring training is relaxing? There are scorpions in the desert and relatives of Jaws in the ocean.
Chris Bahr/FOX Sports
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals had been the speculated landing spot for free-agent catcher Matt Wieters this offseason, and the two sides reached a deal on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.
The club has not confirmed the deal, which is reportedly a two-year, $21 million contract with an option after the first season. Wieters would get $10 million in 2017 and $11 millionNationals agree to a two-year, $21M deal with Matt Wieters if he returns in '18.
Wieters, who turns 31 in May, could help fill a void left after the Nationals lost starting catcher Wilson Ramos, who tore his ACL in September and signed with the Rays during free agency. Wieters spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Orioles, where he became a four-time All-Star, most recently in 2016. He has always been a strong offensive player, and adding him to the mix would lengthen an already deep Nationals lineup.
However, Wieters comes with questions. He had Tommy John surgery in 2014 that limited him to 101 games between 2014-15. This past season, he appeared in 124 games and hit .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a career-low 87 OPS+, where 100 is the league average. His pitch-framing metrics have been poor at minus 7.3 runs below average, per StatCorner.
Even when the Nationals were linked to Wieters during the offseason, they downplayed their interest and did not pursue him aggressively. But general manager Mike Rizzo always seeks a good deal, so as the market for Wieters never materialized and he remained a free agent, Washington was likely able to grab him at a discounted price.
It's the second time in the past week that the Nationals have landed a good deal in free agency; they signed Adam Lind to a contract the day before Spring Training began. Wieters is also set to become the latest client of agent Scott Boras to join the Nats on a team that includes Bryce HarperStephen StrasburgMax ScherzerStephen Drew and Jayson Werth.
Signing Wieters is another signal that the Nationals' offseason, as quiet as it has been, is perhaps not over.
The Nats' 40-man roster is full, so any deal involving him would require a corresponding move. And they will potentially have a surplus of catchers, with Wieters, Derek NorrisJose Lobaton and Pedro Severino, their No. 11 prospect as rated by It is possible that Washington will try and turn that catching depth into help at the back end of the bullpen, as its search for a closer continues.
The White Sox have needs at catcher, and the Nationals have been interested in acquiring closer David Robertson, so there is a possible fit.'s Jayson Stark reported "a team that has been talking with the White Sox says they have been waiting for the Nats to sign Wieters to rekindle David Robertson trade talks."
Jamal Collier/
The Yankees and veteran left-hander Jonathon Niese agreed to a Minor League deal pending a physical, according to multiple reports on Sunday. The club has not confirmed them.
According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, if Niese passes the physical, the Yankees will sign and bring him to Major League camp. The Yankees could use Niese as a starter or a reliever.
Jonathon Niese agrees to Minor League deal with Yankees
The 30-year-old was drafted by and has spent almost all of his career with the crosstown Mets. The Pirates acquired Niese last offseason in the deal that brought Neil Walker to the Mets. But after struggling in Pittsburgh, the Mets, needing pitching depth amid a rash of injuries to their staff, re-acquired him at the 2016 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Niese has primarily been a starter throughout his eight-year career, but the Pirates moved him to the bullpen in the weeks before trading him back to the Mets. He made several relief appearances after returning to New York until undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee that ended his season in late August.
Even before the surgery, 2016 was rough for Niese. He posted a 5.50 ERA in 121 innings over 29 games (20 starts), with 47 walks and 88 strikeouts.
David Adler /