Blue Jays: It’s possible Marco Estrada sticks around post 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Starting pitcher Marco Estrada
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Starting pitcher Marco Estrada /

The Toronto Blue Jays decided to hold on to Marco Estrada at the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline for a few reasons, the main one being he was not pitching well at all, save for one start against the Royals from June on. That led to nothing of significance as a return for moving Estrada, but there is a potentially big positive. Marco Estrada could stick around post 2017.

General Manager Ross Atkins went on Primetime Sports on the Fan 590 in Toronto with Bob McCown and Blue Jays writer Arden Zwelling, and had plenty to say about the non-waiver deadline that just passed.

He also offered the following statement regarding not moving Marco Estrada, as many expected they would:

"“Really, that’s one of the benefits of having not traded him. It increases our likelihood to stay more engaged and focus on him as an alternative for 2018,” Atkins said, speaking with Bob McCown and Arden Zwelling. “We’ll see. That takes two parties. And we’ve got to work through alternatives, and work though all of the scenarios.”"

That is a pretty big nugget for Ross Atkins to drop on air. It makes complete sense for the Blue Jays to bring back Estrada as well, as he can fit in at the bottom of the rotation behind Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, and J.A. Happ in 2018. There was likely to be a gap with the departure of Francisco Liriano at season’s end, leaving two spots to be filled. There was always the possibility of the Jays trading Estrada and re-signing him in the off-season. Now, they can work on a potential extension with Estrada around barring a potential August trade.

More from Jays Journal

The past two seasons has seen Estrada emerge as a front of the line rotation arm. He even started Opening Day for the Blue Jays back in April against the Baltimore Orioles. He’s also developed the reputation of being one of the most clutch Blue Jays post-season performers with three incredible post-season starts, and with the other two still being pretty good.

The issue for Estrada this season has been his lack of command (3.78 BB/9) and HR/FB rate at 11.1%. The home run has always been an issue for Estrada, but in 2015 that number was at 8.7% and 9.9% in 2016. The lack of fastball and breaking ball command this season has led to teams sitting on his fantastic changeup. From June onwards he’s also seemed to be out of whack with his mechanics and potentially even tipping his pitches.

For Estrada and the Blue Jays, the extra work these next two months, barring a trade, can be used to iron out his mechanics and get him back near the level he’s been the past two seasons, which is being tops in the American League in batting average against. Even if Estrada can get to in between 2015-2016 and this season, he would be a great back end of the rotation option for next year.

It’s funny that despite the 5.19 ERA, his FIP of 4.38 and xFIP of 4.85 aren’t far off at all from what he’s done the previous two seasons, so there does appear to be the ability to get Estrada right again. Despite it only being the Chicago White Sox, Estrada looked vintage on Monday night (July 31st). He was getting pop-ups and weak contact off the bat of the White Sox, which is what’s made him so effective the previous seasons.

The fact Ross Atkins has mentioned they are looking to engage in contract talks with Estrada is a positive sign they view him as a guy that Pete Walker and the coaching staff can fix to be an effective starter once again. Given the way the season has gone already, Estrada could likely be had for a cheaper dollar figure than the past contract he signed with the team. That is a gamble the Blue Jays should take 10/10 times.

Given the body of work Estrada has had as a Blue Jay, despite two rough months in 2017, re-signing him could make for a very good one through four in the 2018 rotation. There are some big names potentially hitting the market this off-season like Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Johnny Cueto, and Lance Lynn. The Blue Jays likely won’t be players for any of the big time free agents, so re-signing Estrada is a move that makes all the sense to complete.

Next: GM provides updates on Travis and Pompey

Marco Estrada has also said how much him and his family love the city of Toronto and that he’d love to remain a Blue Jay. Keeping Estrada has given the Blue Jays a golden chance to lock him up for another few seasons and potentially reap the rewards of having an effective Estrada in the rotation once again. I’ll conclude this piece by including a tweet from a well respected source at BP Toronto regarding Marco Estrada and the Blue Jays. It’s below.