Blue Jays, Estrada agree on 1-year extension

Blue Jays, Estrada agree on 1-year extension

TORONTO -- Marco Estrada's stock was trending upward, and with free agency looming in November, he would not have to wait long to find out his market value. He also didn't care.

Estrada maintained all year that he was comfortable in Toronto, and his top priority was remaining with the Blue Jays beyond the 2017 season. Almost every professional athlete says something similar, but Estrada put a contract where his mouth is by signing a one-year extension worth $13 million.

The veteran righty conceded that a piece of him was curious about what free agency had in store. A bigger part was more concerned about getting something done with the Blue Jays, even if that meant losing any chance at a multiyear deal this winter. Estrada knew what he wanted, and he went out and got it.

"I'm happy here, and I knew I wanted to come back," said Estrada, who has been with the Blue Jays since 2015. "I knew if I got a fair offer, I would definitely listen to it. Obviously that's what happened. I liked what they offered. I like what I heard from them. I knew in my heart that I wanted to come back and it was the right move for me. It was pretty easy to decide to come back."

Estrada was highly motivated to get a deal done, and he found a willing partner in the Blue Jays, who faced an uncertain offseason with a couple of holes in the starting rotation. Estrada slots into that core alongside Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ. Toronto is expected to have interest in re-signing Brett Anderson, while Joe Biagini and a few other internal candidates could receive consideration for the final spot.

The main pieces of Toronto's bullpen also remain in place next year with a group that includes closer Roberto Osuna, setup men Ryan Tepera and Dominic Leone, rookie Carlos Ramirez and lefties Aaron Loup and Tim Mayza. The depth means the Blue Jays can focus their attention on starting depth while at the same time overhauling an offense that drastically underperformed in 2017.

"Both of us valued having clarity," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. "For us, the more information we have for our strategy and planning moving forward, the better. The sooner we know that X dollars are spent on this piece in the rotation, that's helpful. For Marco, it's the peace of mind and knowing that he's going to be here and not having the stress of free agency."

Estrada tosses gem over eight

Estrada signing just a one-year deal would have seemed impossible earlier this season. He was named Toronto's Opening Day starter following an impressive 2016 campaign, and for the first two months of this season, he was one of the most effective pitchers in the game. His value then took a nosedive during a stretch in June and July in which he posted an 8.87 ERA.

The 34-year-old said Wednesday that those problems weren't related to anything mechanical, but he was going through personal issues away from the field. Estrada declined to elaborate further, but added the situation has been resolved. He has a 3.75 ERA since July 31.

"One year is what, I think, both parties wanted," Estrada said. "I'm not sure what this team's future is two, three years down the line, but I think next year we're going to have a really good team to go for it. I want to be a part of it ... and who's to say I can't sign another one year down the line? But for now, it was the right move. I guess I could have tested the market and tried to get more than one year, but right now I'm happy here and want to come back here."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.