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Blue Jays favourite Marco Estrada off to Athletics

Starting pitcher Marco Estrada has signed a deal with the Oakland Athletics, the crafty right-hander confirmed to the Toronto Sun on Friday.

According to MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal, the contract is for one year at $4 million.

Estrada, 35, went 39-40 in four seasons with the Blue Jays, though that number is inflated as he suffered through back problems for much of his time in Toronto, particularly the final two seasons. He started six post-season games for the Jays, going 3-3 and was dominant at times.

Oakland may prove to be a great fit for Estrada if he can stay healthy. The spacious Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum benefits fly-ball pitchers, which Estrada certainly is.

Estrada was traded to the Jays for first baseman Adam Lind on Nov. 1, 2014 and had a couple of very good seasons with Toronto, going 13-8 in 2015 with a 3.13 ERA and then recorded a win/loss record of 9-9 with a 3.48 ERA in 2016. That season, he was named to the All-Star game for the first time in his career. He struggled the next couple of years, mostly due to issues with his back.

Estrada started his career with the Jays on a high note in 2015, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles (broken up by a bloop single by Jimmy Paredes) and, in his next start, took a perfect game into the eighth, which was broken up when Logan Forsythe hit a weak infield single – becoming the first player to lose no-hit bids in the eighth inning or later in consecutive games since former Jay Dave Stieb did so in 1988.

On June 21, 2016, the native of Sonora, Mexico, who grew up in Los Angeles, set an MLB record by having eleven straight starts pitching six innings and allowing five hits or fewer. In Game 1 of the 2016 ALDS against the Texas Rangers, Estrada came within two outs of a complete game shutout, though he did pick up the win in a 10-1 Toronto victory.

Estrada became a fan favourite in Toronto because of his work on the mound of course, but also because of the way he pitched. He was a craftsman, basically using a lights-out change up along with a 87-91 mile-per-hour fastball to great effectiveness, especially when he was healthy (he also used a curve ball and cutter). His modest/laid-back demeanour also endeared him to Jays fans.

Through a friend, Estrada’s wife tweeted a message on Friday: ‘Thank you to the Blue Jays organization and the fans for welcoming us into your family. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity and support you guys gave Marco. We were lucky to spend 4 great years with a fantastic group of people and will take with us so many memories that we will forever treasure! This is the city our kids have grown up in and it’ll be hard to beat. I’m sure we will cross paths again in this crazy baseball world that we live in. But for now, Toronto you were AMAZING!!!’

Estrada became a free agent after the 2018 season.

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