TORONTO — Marco Estrada grew up in southern California, the land of the unique Disneyland. And the best way he was speaking on Wednesday, it’s as if he’s nonetheless dwelling in some type of fantasy world. Which isn’t a nasty factor within the cynical world of professional sports activities.
The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander agreed to a one-year contract extension with the membership for $13 million, avoiding free company. He insisted the primary motivation for wanting to remain in Toronto was not cash, however just because he likes it right here and, to not go all Sally Discipline, however as a result of Jays followers actually, actually like him.
“Simply strolling down the streets, somebody would run into me and inform me, ‘Man it’s going to be OK, we consider in you.’ There’s a whole lot of that,” Estrada mentioned Wednesday. “Simply strolling down the road, individuals understanding. It isn’t at all times about baseball. We’re human beings, we even have emotions, so it’s good to listen to a few of that every so often.”
A captivating sentiment, however in fact being supplied $13 million after a season that was actually three seasons in a one — a good begin, a horrible center (with rumours swirling that he was going to be traded) and an important end — isn’t a nasty deal for any participant. And little doubt Estrada is hoping to parlay a superb 2018 marketing campaign into one other multiyear deal for more cash. However the 34-year-old pitcher mentioned after sitting down with the Toronto entrance workplace this summer time, he’s sure that they won’t be sitting on their duffs within the offseason and that competing for a playoff spot in 2018 is unquestionably within the playing cards.
“I wanted to ensure these guys wished to win subsequent season and so they need to win,” Estrada mentioned. “That’s all I wanted to listen to. I consider them, I belief them. We had some actually good talks. I really feel like we’re going to be in a fairly good place subsequent season.
“Simply beginning with our beginning rotation, you have got proper now 4 guys (himself, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ) which are assured to return again, and if all people will get wholesome and we don’t have any accidents to fret about … What we did final season, we will do it over again subsequent season. I’m hoping — knock on wooden — all people stays wholesome and comes again able to go as a result of with these beginning 4 guys we positively have a very good probability of going deep within the playoffs.”
Estrada’s signing definitely had his teammates smiling.
“I’m ecstatic,” Sanchez mentioned. “He’s the very best. Nice man. Loves all the pieces about right here, this staff, this tradition, this nation. So I’m glad issues have labored out between them and he’s again for an additional yr. And I’m positive I converse for lots of people on this clubhouse.”
Estrada is finishing his third season with the Blue Jays and his 10th within the majors. In his three seasons in Toronto, he has a 31-25 file with a 3.81 ERA. The 2016 All-Star recorded a mixed .203 opponents common throughout 2015-16 to steer the AL. Estrada will set up a career-high in innings pitched with 4.2 further innings this season. This yr he’s 9-Eight with a 4.84 ERA.
In three American League Division Collection video games, Estrada has a 2-Zero file with a 1.02 ERA, and a 1-Three mark with a 3.60 in AL Championship Collection outings. Jays common supervisor Ross Atkins mentioned even throughout Estrada’s tough stretch this season, the membership remained assured that his issues can be rectified and so they by no means misplaced curiosity in bringing him again. Seems, the problems Estrada was coping with weren’t mechanical, however private. One thing he mentioned he has handled.
“I’m not going to get into it an excessive amount of,” he mentioned. “However it had nothing to do with baseball. This stuff occur, it’s unlucky. It was private points, so as soon as that was handled, as soon as I had clear head, I believe all people has seen the outcomes ever since then.”
Atkins mentioned a part of the rationale a deal was completed so early was each side wished readability. Signing an skilled starter to a one-year deal is nice for any membership that doesn’t need to get slowed down with long-term offers for getting old gamers. In that sense, Atkins acknowledged that the Jays are in a superb place.
“Marco’s been one of many higher pitchers within the American League and clearly pitching within the AL East, that’s onerous to do — pitching in smaller ball parks. This yr we’ve not had the very best defence, we anticipate that to right,” he mentioned.
“I believe whenever you step again from Marco objectively, it comes all the way down to fastball command, we’re seeing that once more now. There are not any indicators that we may discover that may recommend that he needs to be any much less efficient then he’s been there. And one of many issues that’s most fun about Marco is his skill to be the very same or higher in playoff eventualities.”
Atkins gained’t go into specifics of what the membership’s plans are for enhancing subsequent yr, however he mentioned improved well being is the important thing. Heading into Wednesday’s sport towards the Kansas Metropolis Royals, the Jays have had 25 gamers land on the DL in 31 stints that account for 1,351 video games missed. Nonetheless, well being is rarely assured. However the Jays may have an estimated $60 million coming off the books this low season that they will spend. Atkins mentioned Estrada has purchased into the plan.
“Realizing that if we’re at full well being and have a bit extra depth than we did to begin the yr, it’s simple to consider successful when you have got a staff with Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak in the course of the lineup and rotation that has Happ and Stroman, Sanchez and now including again Estrada,” Atkins mentioned.
Skeptics might not be so optimistic concerning the Jays’ short-term future, however Estrada doesn’t care.
“I like what I heard from them, and that’s all that basically mattered,” he mentioned. “I knew in my coronary heart I wished to return again. It’s the precise transfer for me. It was fairly simple. I’ve been actually comfortable right here, I like the best way the followers have handled me. Even by these tough stretches I’ve had this yr, in June and July, I obtained a whole lot of love and help. These little issues imply the world to me.”