Posted on September 20, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine

Toronto Blue Jays Marco Estrada

Image via cbs.ca

Despite the Toronto Blue Jays having a disappointing 2017 season, they are hoping to reload in 2018 and not rebuild. The team is already taking steps toward becoming competitive again in 2018. The Blue Jays have reportedly agreed to a one-year extension with starting pitcher Marco Estrada. The deal is reportedly worth $13 million, which is on par with the two-year, $26 million contract Estrada signed prior to the 2016 season.

Estrada receiving an extension appeared likely after the Blue Jays declined to move him at the trade deadline. While not a frontline starter, Estrada could have improved the rotation depth of a contending team. Not trading him was a sign that the Blue Jays would like him back.

“We’ll start thinking about not only how he impacts us now, but how he can potentially impact us beyond 2017,” Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said of Estrada following the deadline.

For Estrada, the feeling appears to be mutual. He’s become a fan favorite in Toronto over the past three years. Estrada has also had some of the best seasons of his career with the Blue Jays.

“I’m sure they want me back,” Estrada said after he wasn’t moved at the deadline. “I hope they do. I’ve expressed a lot that I’m really happy here and I’d like to stay.”

Of course, Estrada would be the first to admit that he’s not had his best year in 2017. In 31 starts this season, the 34-year old Estrada is 9-8 with a 4.84 ERA. That’s a significant step back from his first two seasons in Toronto. Estrada posted an ERA of 3.13 and 3.48 in 2015 and 2016, respectively. However, Estrada is closing out the season strong. He has a 1.80 ERA in three September starts and a 3.75 ERA in the 10 starts he’s made since the trade deadline.

Even with Estrada taking a slight step backward this year, he can still be a reliable part of Toronto’s rotation next year. Outside of some back soreness that cost him a few starts in 2016, Estrada has remained healthy during his time in Toronto. He’s given the Blue Jays at least 176 innings in each of his three seasons with the club.

If nothing else, Estrada figures to be a reliable back-end starter behind the trio of Marcus Stroman, JA Happ, and Aaron Sanchez. With Sanchez hindered by injuries all season and Happ also missing time, an innings eater like Estrada at the back of the rotation could prove quite valuable for the Blue Jays.

Ultimately, both sides will benefit from this one-year extension. If Toronto didn’t give Estrada an extension before he hit free agency, the Blue Jays would just have to spend money on starting pitchers on the free agent market. With the Blue Jays being familiar with Estrada and the veteran starter wanting to stay in Toronto, the extension is a great move for both sides.

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