Update: The Blue Jays have officially qualified Marco Estrada. He now has until November 13th to either accept or decline the rose … I mean, offer.
It was one of the defining moments of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays season; watching Marco Estrada walk off the mound during Game 5 of the ALCS.
He was masterful through 7.2 innings, holding the Kansas City Royals to merely three hits. The Royals were relentless against the Jays in the ALCS, but Marco Estrada was the one man who found the magical formula to shut them down.
For that reason alone, Marco Estrada earned a lot of goodwill with Blue Jays fans the organization itself. Add to that his phenomenal regular season performance, and Estrada became an unsung hero in Toronto this year.
So with that sentiment still fresh in many minds, the Toronto Blue Jays need to make their first key decision of the offseason in a matter of mere hours; whether or not to extend a qualifying offer to Marco Estrada.
By 5pm today, we will learn one way or another whether Estrada will remain a member of the Blue Jays (for the foreseeable future, at least).
The one-year qualifying offer alone is $15.8 million dollars; a hefty raise from Estrada’s 2015 salary of $3.9 million dollars. So it’s understandable why the Blue Jays might balk at that price.
But, let’s look at the facts; the Blue Jays have an immediate need for starting pitching. They’ll also likely have a need for starting pitching two and three years down the road as well.
The qualifying offer would only be for one year; essentially a temporary band-aid solution. In the meantime, the Blue Jays could address other needs and decide further down the road whether they want to extend Marco Estrada even further.
But this is one of the very rare instances when a team could just throw a player a qualifying offer and he would very likely accept. 99% of other players in similar situations decline that offer and hit the open market.
If Marco Estrada does get a multi-year offer, I can only see one being tabled by the Blue Jays, who interestingly enough are the team that needs him the most.
Something in the three-year/$36 million dollar neighbourhood seems fair for Marco Estrada. In their free agent predictions, FanGraphs has Estrada projected to receive a three-year/$33 million dollar contract from the Blue Jays.
Although he had a stellar 2015 season, I still think there are some question marks about Marco Estrada. I still feel like we need to see more from him aside from a one-year
sample size to warrant a contract extension beyond three years.
Then if you bring back Marco Estrada, are the Blue Jays obligated to to bring back Dioner Navarro as his batterymate as well? If so, they’d be tacking on an extra $4-5 million per year.
I’d be perfectly fine with having Russell Martin catching Marco Estrada; Estrada worked well with Navarro, but it’s not imperative that the two are paired together. Plus, the Jays already have a tonne of money committed to Russell Martin.
But I think the Jays should seriously consider giving Marco Estrada a multi-year deal. The Jays’ starting rotation is still in flux this year and even next year. They have Marcus Stroman and R.A. Dickey penciled into the rotation … and that’s about it.
And looking ahead to 2017, the Blue Jays likely might not even have Dickey. So it’s absolutely important the Blue Jays lock up at least one more rotation spot. Ideally, only one of Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna move into the starting rotation, which still leaves two vacancies.
The issue with only qualifying Marco Estrada now is it could lead to the Blue Jays doing this exact same song and dance at season’s end next year. In 2017 and 2018, there will still be spots to fill in the starting rotation. The need will certainly always be there.
Also, what happens if the Jays qualify Estrada and then he puts forth yet another career year? At that point, it likely prices the Blue Jays out and Estrada fetches that much more on the open market.
So many things can change between this offseason and next offseason. If the Jays have the leverage to ink Marco Estrada to a deal now, they should absolutely do it.
But is Estrada really worth that much? Estrada’s still a mid-rotation starter, but $12 million dollars is on the low-end of free agent pitchers anyway.$12 million dollars per season for a starter is not an egregious way to spend money.
Unless the team’s rotation is comprised of pre-arbitration starters that cost next to nothing, no team is getting away with paying less than $10 million these days for a half decent starter.
Image via Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP