Blue Jays make it official, Marco Estrada signs 2-year deal


The Toronto Blue Jays have finalized their rumored deal with free agent starter Marco Estrada. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that it is a two-year contract. According to Shi Davidi and Mike Wilner of Sportsnet, the deal is reportedly worth a total of $26 million.

Originally expected to fill a similar role to his swingman days with the Milwaukee Brewers, Estrada gave the Blue Jays 181.0 innings with an excellent 3.13 ERA. While deadline additions and a late-season surge from R.A. Dickey have received much of the credit for Toronto’s playoff push, the 2015 campaign is an entirely different story without Estrada’s presence.

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Estrada is an easy target for the ever-enjoyable regression hounds, but some fundamental changes to his pitching style mean this was about more than good fortune. His opponent BABIP was a career outlier at .216, though he was able to limit hard-hit contact by keeping hitters off-balance with his fastball and changeup pitch mixing. Sliding into the rotation that now features Dickey and Marcus Stroman, the Jays would be thrilled to see Estrada push 200.0 innings with a ~3.75 ERA.

This could also shift the spotlight to Dioner Navarro, the free agent catcher who paired with Estrada for the majority of his success in 2015. Estrada’s primary and peripheral statistics were much stronger with Navarro behind the plate, but unless Navarro comes at an unexpected discount later in the offseason, Toronto could easily choose to trust Russell Martin with the job. Especially if Josh Thole or another option are kept on the 25-man to protect Martin from Dickey’s knuckleball, he’d line up with Estrada by default.

Toronto will now remain focused on the free agent pitching market, with the middle tier a more realistic targeting point. The trade market remains a viable option, as well, especially with several high-profile bullpen names rumored to be available. With Estrada’s contract finalized, Mark Shapiro and Tony LaCava will be able to ramp up their efforts given the increased payroll certainty.