Oakland Athletics Should Pursue Marco Estrada This Offseason

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Toronto Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada pitched a masterful game against the Kansas City Royals in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series; tossing a remarkable 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball, with five strikeouts on 108 pitches.

Since being eliminated by the Royals, the Blue Jays’ front office has a tough decision to make as to whether or not to resign the veteran right-hander, after his one-year, $3.9 million contract ended and he became a free agent.

The Long Beach, Calif., native has five years of major league service under his belt, and would prove to be a valuable asset the Oakland Athletics organization. Ace Sonny Gray is a sure bet to crack the A’s rotation out of Spring Training, and while starters Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman recover from their injuries, Chris Bassitt seems like a shoe in. But until Sean Manaea arrives, the best option for the green and gold would be a seasoned veteran if the A’s have any intention of making a postseason push.

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In this scenario, Estrada is the perfect candidate who has found his groove as a starter — in 2013 with the Milwaukee Brewers, he posted a 7-4 record with a 3.87 earned run average in 21 starts. What’s truly impressive is the 32-year-old didn’t become a full-fledged starter until the 2012 campaign; and since then — has limited free passes to the opposition. In five major league seasons, Estrada has allowed no more that 44 walks on the hill each season, aside from 55 this past campaign.

The increase in free passes was partially due to the 181 frames pitched in 2015; the most tossed in his professional career. However, lets take into account his strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2012: 143:29, 118:29, 127:44, 131:55. Another aspect that makes Estrada an excellent fit for Oakland is his reputation as a fly ball pitcher. With the heavy East Bay marine layer, especially during night games, he should have no problem pitching to contact without major concerns of the ball leaving the yard.

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Estrada has battled through a series of injuries, including a tweaked ankle in Spring Training, but managed to defy the odds and have the best season of his five-year career. The A’s are known for taking injury-prone players including Scott Kazmir, Jed Lowrie, and most recently Brett Lawrie — and keeping them on the field for an extended period of time. Who’s to say the green and gold couldn’t do the same with Estrada, and maybe for the first time, he could reach the 200 innings mark? A two or three-year contract sounds feasible, at least until the arrivals of Daniel Mengden, Dillon Overton, and Casey Meisner in the bigs.

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