Estrada happy to be back with Blue Jays

Two-year deal for stingi­est pitcher af­ter all-star break

Metro Canada (Winnipeg) - - METRO SPORTS -

They loved it out here. They had a really good time, felt safe and com­fort­able. That means the world to me. Marco Estrada on his fam­ily’s opin­ion of Toronto

The Toronto Blue Jays wanted him back, and Marco Estrada was happy to re­turn. For the right-han­der, it was a win-win sit­u­a­tion.

The Jays agreed, sign­ing him to a $26-mil­lion US, two-year deal that made sense for both par­ties.

For the 32-year-old Estrada, who made $3.9 mil­lion last sea­son, it’s a gi­gan­tic pay hike that should trans­late into life­time se­cu­rity for his fam­ily. For the Jays, need­ing to bol­ster their ro­ta­tion for the likely loss of free agents David Price and Mark Buehrle, it’s two more years of ser­vice from a de­pend­able, qual­ity arm.

Estrada is also low main­te­nance and a com­fort­able fit in the Toronto club­house.

“He ex­em­pli­fies ev­ery­thing we’re look­ing for in a Blue Jay player,” in­terim GM Tony LaCava told a Rogers Cen­tre news con­fer­ence Tues­day. “He earned this con­tract and we’re happy to have this day for him.”

The new con­tract was an­nounced last Fri­day, but Estrada and LaCava met the me­dia Tues­day to dis­cuss the deal.

Af­ter be­ing ac­quired from Mil­wau­kee in a Novem­ber 2014 trade for Adam Lind, Estrada started this sea­son in the bullpen af­ter rolling an an­kle in spring train­ing but soon pitched his way out of it.

Be­fud­dling bat­ters with a dev­as­tat­ing change-up, Estrada went 13-8 with a ca­reer-best 3.13 earned-run av­er­age and a ca­reer-high 28 starts.

Only Jake Ar­ri­eta (.185) of the Chicago Cubs and Zack Greinke (.187) and Clay­ton Ker­shaw (.194) of the Los An­ge­les Dodgers held bat­ters to a lower av­er­age this sea­son than Estrada (.203). And Estrada led the ma­jors in that cat­e­gory af­ter the all-star break, re­strict­ing op­po­si­tion hit­ters to a .183 bat­ting av­er­age.

Ker­shaw is due to make $34.6 mil­lion next sea­son while Greinke will get $26 mil­lion. Ar­ri­eta made $3.63 mil­lion as an ar­bi­tra­tion-el­i­gi­ble player in 2015, and isn’t el­i­gi­ble for free agency un­til af­ter the 2017 sea­son.

Estrada had sev­eral op­tions af­ter the Jays made him a $15.8-mil­lion qual­i­fy­ing of­fer. He could have opted for the one-year pot of gold, tested free agency or made an­other deal to stay in Toronto.

He chose the last op­tion, say­ing it was “smooth sail­ing” get­ting the deal done.

“I would have taken prob­a­bly less for more years,” he ac­knowl­edged. “But it’s just the way things worked out. Two years is plenty ... I feel like it’s an ex­tremely fair of­fer.”

“Could I have got more years on the open mar­ket? Maybe. But I wanted to come back here.”

Estrada said one big rea­son was that most of his team­mates are also com­ing back. “And I feel it’s a pretty strong team to be­gin with.”

CHRIS YOUNG THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Marco Estrada, left, and in­terim GM Tony LaCava speak at news con­fer­ence on Tues­day in

Toronto.

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