Estrada and Blue Jays agree to $26 million, 2-year contract
TORONTO (AP) Free agent right-hander Marco Estrada agreed Friday to a $26 million, two-year contract to remain with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto announced the agreement minutes before the deadline for Estrada to accept the team's $15.8 million qualifying offer for a one-year contract.
The 32-year-old was 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA, setting career bests for wins, ERA and opponents' batting average. He was 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in the playoffs, Toronto's first postseason appearance since 1993.
''We obviously identified Marco as a priority to bring back after the season he had,'' interim general manager Tony LaCava said during a conference call. ''He was a big part of our success. We think that he can maintain that level of performance, maybe not to the level that he did this year, but certainly someone we can count on going forward who can help us defend the AL East title.''
Estrada gets a $1 million signing bonus payable by Jan. 29 and salaries of $11 million next year and $14 million in 2017.
Estrada began 2015 in the bullpen but joined the rotation in early May after left-hander Daniel Norris was demoted to Triple-A. Estrada went winless in his first five starts, then was 12-5 the rest of the way, beginning with a four-start winning streak between June 2 and June 19.
''He never looked back,'' LaCava said. ''He just continued to get stronger and stronger throughout the season.''
Estrada's final start of the year was among his strongest. With Toronto facing elimination against Kansas City in the AL Championship Series, Estrada pitched one-hit ball into the eighth inning to help the Blue Jays win 7-1 in Game 5.
An eight-year veteran, Estrada has also pitched for Washington and Milwaukee. He joined the Blue Jays in a November 2014 trade that sent first baseman Adam Lind to the Brewers.
Toronto also has right-handers Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey and Drew Hutchison under contract for next season. Right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who began 2015 in the rotation but returned to the bullpen following a mid-season muscle strain, may be used as a starter during spring training. Rookie closer Roberto Osuna is also a candidate for the rotation in 2016.
LaCava said adding more starting pitching will be his priority as the offseason develops.
''We're definitely going to continue to try to add to that group,'' LaCava said.