5:22pm: Toronto manager John Gibbons bluntly told reporters that he doesn’t expect Estrada to go anywhere (via MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm).
“Yeah, but nothing is going to happen,” said the skipper. “We need him. Most guys go through that; most of them probably get claimed anyway. Nothing’s going to happen.” Gibbons went on to indicate that he hopes the front office will work out a deal to bring Estrada back to Toronto in 2018 and beyond, though that’s likely an issue that won’t be addressed until the offseason.
Notably, Estrada is lined up to start tonight’s game, and there’s been no indication that anything has changed in that regard.
2:52pm: Toronto is not all that interested in parting with Estrada, even via trade, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). It remains unknown what team was awarded the claim, though Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets that it’s “believed” an AL East competitor did so.
2:36pm: Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada has been claimed on revocable waivers by an as-yet unidentified team, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). It is not yet known whether he will end up changing uniforms.
The teams will have 48 hours from the point that the claim was awarded to attempt to work out a trade. If no deal can be completed, Toronto will be able to elect whether to allow the other team to take over Estrada’s contract or instead to pull him back. In the latter case, Estrada could not be traded without being exposed again to the waiver wire — this time without the right to revoke. (Click here for more on how August trades work.)
While claims happen all the time without player movement resulting, Estrada seems a particularly plausible candidate to find a new home. Indeed, he placed first on MLBTR’s latest ranking of possible August trade chips. Toronto is still hanging around the fringes of the AL Wild Card race, but has quite a few teams to leapfrog in the standings as well as several key players on the disabled list.
While the team has also emphasized that it wishes to continue fielding a quality product, and also that it may have interest in retaining Estrada past the present season, this waiver claim represents an opportunity to save a big chunk of change and perhaps to add some young talent.
Estrada, 34, is owed $14MM this year before returning to the open market at season’s end. (He won’t be eligible for a qualifying offer after previously having receiving one from the Jays, which led to his current contract.) With about a quarter of the calendar still yet to be played out, there’s about $3.5MM left to pay the veteran righty.
It has been a frustrating season for Estrada, who carries a 4.85 ERA through 135 1/3 total innings. But there are reasons to believe he could be a quality hurler down the stretch. Estrada was excellent last year, has managed 140 strikeouts against just 56 walks on the current season, and has now turned in four consecutive effective outings after a rough stretch for much of June and July. He’s carrying an 11.4% swinging-strike rate that sits above his career average and is showing typical velocity.
Opposing hitters had managed very low batting averages on balls in play against Estrada over recent years, helping to drive his success. But that number has jumped to .305 in 2017, despite the fact that he carries a rather familiar mix of grounders versus flies (0.62), infield pops (15.2%), and hard contact (27.7%). If he can drive the BABIP back down to where it was in 2015 and 2016, Estrada could again make for a strong rotation presence.