Though we noted Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada as a possible trade candidate in our first ranking of the 50 top trade deadline assets, he only rated mention on the outside of the list. To that point of the season, after all, Estrada had largely been ineffective. With a $13MM salary, there wasn’t a ton of appeal in a player who’ll turn 35 in early July.
That situation, however, is beginning to change. Estrada has been one of the better starters in baseball over the past month, accumulating an even 1.0 fWAR over the past thirty days — something only ten other hurlers in the game have accomplished. In his last four outings, in particular, he has worked to a 1.75 ERA with 26 strikeouts against five walks.
How has it happened? It’s a bit difficult to say for sure, as there haven’t been any truly dramatic swings in his approach or stuff. But his fastball sure has been more effective: it was valued at -1.53 runs per one hundred pitches through May, but has jumped to a +4.27 valuation on a rate basis in June. And Estrada has been pumping first-pitch strikes at a greater rate in the past month as well (going from 63.4% to 69.5%). Meanwhile, the shape of his changeup has altered somewhat, exhibiting less horizontal and slightly more vertical movement over his past four starts.
These changes are subtle enough that they may not really reflect much at all of substance. The primary drivers, perhaps, still need to be sussed out and assessed for sustainability. But it does not seem that Estrada has simply been the beneficiary of a correction in batted-ball fortune. Statcast suggests he deserved the poor outcomes that befell him through the end of May, and has simply been much better at limiting good contact since.
In the aggregate, it’s certainly far too soon to declare Estrada a newfound ace. In all likelihood, his true talent at this point pegs him as a solid hurler who could help a contender fill out a competitive rotation.
That general impression is buttressed by a review of Estrada’s past several seasons. Upon landing in Toronto, he had great results in 2015 and 2016 before a downturn last year. But his underlying statistics have been fairly consistent all along. In total, over 627 1/3 innings with the Jays, Estrada owns a 3.96 ERA with a 4.40 FIP, 4.91 xFIP, and 4.57 SIERA. To the extent it’s reasonable to anticipate that he will outperform the ERA estimators somewhat, it’s likely not wise to hope he’ll do so by any great margin.
Barring a sustained run over the next month, Estrada likely won’t generate a huge amount of excitement at the trade deadline. But he increasingly looks like a solid piece for the right team. He has been good for about thirty starts and 180 frames annually of late, and despite some ups and downs is perhaps reasonably viewed as a sturdy back-of-the-rotation arm overall.
As the above-linked list of top deadline candidates shows, the crop of rotation targets is rather thin at present. The Jays surely won’t be able to draw any significant offers of young talent for Estrada. But perhaps they’ll manage to offload a decent chunk of his remaining salary obligations next month. That’s not to say it’s any kind of sure thing that he’ll end up elsewhere. After all, we’ve wondered previously whether the veteran hurler would leave the Jays, only for him to agree to successive contracts just before reaching the open market (see here and here).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Seems like a good fit for the Mariners. He’s probably be a swing guy, but that’d be pretty valuable.
I hope the Jays trade Estrada quickly before he either loses this effectiveness or breaks down again. Let’s move him while the Jays can.
We saw what happened when the Jays Mgmt falsely/poorly estimated that they could compete this year and didn’t trade Donaldson as many were calling for them to do in these pages.. And now Donaldson’s trade value has diminished significantly.
Diminished so dramatically that TOR will likely have to just take the best offer for him next month (whatever it is) and likely send cash in the deal. The probably he’d accept the QO next winter makes it all but imperative the Jays get whatever they can out of him in the next month.
Totally right on. The Jays need to get as much as they can for Estarda as fast as they can.
If he accepts a QO, they’d happily pay him the money. This is one of the best players (when healthy) in baseball we’re talking about. Obviously, health is imperative, but it’s definitely a worth while gamble.
I doubt Donaldson would accept a QO for any reason unless he lost the entire season. If he did accept he would be hitting the market for his age 34 season in 2020. Teams don’t give out long term contracts to 34 year old 3rd baseman. His best bet is to take his time and get 100% healthy for the second half and hope he returns to form. He could be the missing piece that Boston needs in their lineup and allow them to trade Devers for pitching in the offseason.
I’m up for getting as much as you can for Estrada. He’s been at his best lately and has shown he can be dominant in the playoffs. Start fielding offers and maybe a contender wants to get a jump on the market and overpay a little. There’s value there and I think he’s ineligible for a QO as he already got one a couple years ago.
Donaldson is a different animal. He’s got 0 value if he’s injured… so hanging onto him and using a QO makes a lot of sense in that case. Him accepting is not a bad thing for the Jays. If he gets back and starts hitting though who knows. Lots of upside there for a contender if he’s healthy.
Offload Smoak to someone for anything, QO Donaldson and try and re-sign him as a 1B, be a clubhouse leader for younger players and finish his career as a Blue Jay. At this point, if you can’t get a huge return that’s your plan B.
“Offload Smoak… for anything” you’re making it sound like they should give someone a middle of the order bat even if they only get salary relief.
Smoak is only a middle of the order bat for a bad hitting team. If you bring back JD you need to play him more at 1B and DH. Smoak is the more attractive piece than Morales. Now before you bring up OPS and ISO and all the other garbage, let’s put this in proper perspective; not a single contending team wants Justin Smoak because they do not feel he is an improvement to their current 1B situation.
So yes, offload for anything.
114 ops plus. Sure, that’s not as good as last year, but it’s still a good, above average bat. I don’t know why you can throw out stats that disagree with your bad opinion.
“Not a single contending team would want Smoak…”
Contending teams that Smoak would be the starting baseman on
Angels if you consider them contenders.
Plus he’s got the great team option so contenders wouldn’t be the only teams in on him, you don’t just give that away unless you get a good return
Yankees do not need Smoak. They have Greg Bird, who is not producing, but the Yanks do not want to be saddled with Smoak for another year at $6-mil option. Yankees need a stud SP, not Smoak.
Mariners are content with Ryon Healy, putting up similar numbers to Smoak, and have Cruz to DH. And Cano upon return from suspension. Plus Seattle probably needs at starting pitcher or CF rather than 1B.
Indians have Encarnacion and Alfonso and paying them very well They’re not in for Smoak.
Nationals have guys hurt, yet why bring in Smoak with Matt Adams and Ryan Zimmermann returning? They’d be better off address the Catcher’s position.
Angels are not contenders and they’ve suffered numerous injuries on the mound. Once Cozart returns, Valbuena will return to 1B/DH along with Pujols.
Again, no contending team have a pressing need for Smoak, nor would he be a significant improvement. If any team makes an offer, it will not be for significant prospects. Best case scenario is an 18 year old in the Gulf Coast league with potential. I’d take that in-order to make room for Donaldson to return and play in Toronto (maybe).
Many including me called for Smoak trade last year when he was , cough, cough, under counselling and having a career year.
They can get something for him, but not much.
I agree that not many contenders are not going to be interested except to cover injury or depth. Yanks should send Bird back to the minors to learn how to hit.
I would like to see Donaldson or preferably Tulo at first for the Jays. Tulo’s injury troubles demand him being moved from shortstop. Been saying that for 2 years actually.
Smoak is an offseason move most likely. Jays front office have a lovefest for him to which I cannot understand. Time to look to the future and he is not part of it.
Estrada can’t be qualified as he’s already been offered the qualifying offer in the past. Players are only eligible to get qualified once in their careers.
Jimmer….JD suffered a setback. Will be re-evaluated in a few weeks. Doesn’t look good.
Underrated trade by Anthopolous.
Adam Lind for Marco Estrada
That worked so well for them. He even started out as the swing man in 2015 but after that didn’t look back. Add in how well he pitched in the postseason and that was probably AA’s most underrated trade.
I’m going to miss watching guys swing through an 89 MPH fastball due to that changeup
Most underrated concept in baseball: you never have enough starting pitchers.
Very smart move to carry him in the BP at season’s beginning.
Really hope the Yankees pass on him. With his HR troubles coupled with the hitter’s haven that is Yankee Stadium, he would be rocked.
Yankees need a TOR pitcher not a #4-#5 starter. I doubt he is even on their radar.
Yanks need an ace or co-ace.
For what it’s worth, he was untouchable for the Jays in the postseason. It’s only 47 innings over three postseasons, but he doesn’t shrink from the spotlight.
The key for Estrada is his health. His back is wonky. When he can get over the top of his delviery and has his control he is awesome. When he can get over the top and has control he gets hammered.
He has gone far more innings that I thought he would [and was told he would.]. Trade him now!
Late bloomer who has been consistent to the point that since 2015 he’s held onto his rotation spot, and the Jays haven’t had to periodically pull him out due to a phantom injury. Dude’s a gamer who would bolster any contender’s rotation.
Hopefully a team recognizes his postseason performances. He’s pitched better as of late. Don’t see a taker on him due to recent inconsistency (for now). This means the Jays hope Estrada can pitch well over the next 3-4 weeks.
I really hope they can trade him and bring him back int he offseason, same for Happ. Even if the young guys come up and pitch well, they’ll need more pitchers.
Brewers could be interested in bringing him back
Fly ball pitcher who could flourish in a pitcher’s park with good D behind him. Potential great fit for Anaheim or Washington.
As well as Seattle and if SF is still trying to win, they are a fit also.
Marco is so much fun to watch when he is one his game. While I don’t think the return will be that big, I can see a team who needs quality innings going after him. It’s a bit of a question mark as his back can cause issues and he has been inconsistent the last 2 seasons. . That being said the cost wont be huge and it could be a bargain, under the radar type of move.
He wouldn’t take much prospect capital to acquire, Giants have a park big enough to accommodate him