Blue Jays: Estrada contract details, still targeting two starters


Details on the Toronto Blue Jays two-year deal with Marco Estrada have been released, and it does not appear that a team or player option will be included on the back end. As it stands, the Blue Jays will pay Estrada $11.5 million this coming season then $14.5 million in 2017.

Such a contract structure is sensible for the Blue Jays, as it gives them some added flexibility in a 2016 campaign that should see them emerge as AL East contenders once again. With the expiring contracts of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion following this coming year, 2017 is by no means a rebuild, but it could be a period of financial and personnel transition.

While the $1.5 million difference between $11.5 million and an even split of $13 million does not seem substantial in the grand scheme of Toronto’s budget, every dollar counts for a team this starved of pitching depth. The team’s needs go well beyond just the starting five, as the Jays are likely to add several low-cost veterans or minor league free agents. In the typical season, an MLB team will use 10 or more starters.

Building on that, the contract structure can also allow Toronto to offer another free agent a marginally richer 2016 salary if that means the difference between hitting and missing. According to tweets from both Mike Wilner and Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, Blue Jays general manager Tony LaCava remains fully focused on the pitching market.

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Reading between the lines here, adding an additional two pitchers to the rotation would eliminate the necessity of Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez making the jump into starting roles. This limits the work to be done in the bullpen, and also puts Drew Hutchison in a place where he will need to earn his way back on to the 25-man roster in spring training. 

Ideally, the depth built by LaCava will allow Toronto to avoid rolling out the likes of Felix Doubront for multiple starts in 2016. Nearly every team in the MLB is forced into those corners at some point, but with the Jays elite offense, keeping the potential floor of their rotation at a reasonable level could be especially valuable.

Now that qualifying offers are in the rear view mirror, expect the offseason simmer to work towards a boil. The MLB hot stove season stretches on much longer than some of the other major sports, but action should begin to pick up over the coming days. Toronto could be busy.