Pitcher John Grabow became the first of the 171 free agents to reach agreement on a new deal, getting a two-year, $7.5-million US contract Friday from the Chicago Cubs.
The left-hander, 31, combined to go 3-0 with a 3.36 ERA last season in a career-high 75 relief appearances with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cubs.
"I pretty much let everyone know before I left there that I wanted to come back. It's a good situation for me and my family," said Grabow, who said he has a house in Arizona where the Cubs conduct spring training.
Staying in the NL Central and being with a veteran club were also appealing for Grabow.
"It was kind of a no-brainer," he said.
He pitched 30 games and had a 3.24 ERA for the Cubs after he was acquired on July 30 along with left-hander Tom Gorzelanny for pitchers Jose Ascanio and Kevin Hart, and minor league infielder Josh Harrison.
Selected by the Pirates in the third round of the 1997 amateur draft, Grabow is 20-15 with six saves and a 4.03 ERA in 420 major league relief appearances with the Pirates and Cubs.
As one of the Cubs most experienced relievers, Grabow said he has no preference what his role might be.
"If it's the sixth inning or if it's the ninth inning, it doesn't matter. Your job is to go in there and get guys out," he said.
Grabow said he'd been pitching with bone chips in his elbow for about three years, but it hasn't been a major issue.
"Throwing a baseball for all these years your arm is going to develop different things that are just part of the wear and tear," he said. "It's something you learn to manage and I got a routine I do every day before the game starts to prepare my arm to be able to pitch that day."