The Toronto Blue Jays appear one step closer to having a clearer idea of what their starting pitching rotation will look like at the start of spring training.
Marco Estrada, who has until 5 p.m. ET Friday to accept the team's one-year, $15.8 million US qualifying offer, reportedly is in discussions with the Jays on a long-term contract.
"I'm not going to comment on any free-agent negotiations but obviously we are interested in bringing Marco back," Blue Jays interim general manager Tony LaCava told reporters Wednesday night at the general managers meetings in Boca Raton, Fla.
No player has accepted the one-year deal in the three years since the current qualifying offer system has been in place.
Should the reported contract talks fall apart and Estrada chooses not to accept the qualifying offer, the 32-year-old right-hander would become a free agent and Toronto would receive a compensatory draft pick should he sign with another major league team.
Estrada, who didn't start the 2015 season in the rotation, had a career year with a 13-8 record, 3.13 earned-run average and 131 strikeouts in 181 innings.
As Toronto's most reliable starter in the playoffs, he was 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA.
Once Estrada joined the Blue Jays' rotation in early May, there were some who thought his penchant for allowing homers (a MLB-high 29 in 150 2/3 innings in 2014) wouldn't be welcome at Rogers Centre, but he allowed five fewer long balls in 10 more starts and 30 more innings.
Estrada, who was acquired from Milwaukee last Nov. 1 for first baseman Adam Lind, earned $3.9 million this past season and has made $10 million in his MLB career, which spans five full seasons.
Two other Blue Jays starters, David Price and Mark Buehrle, could leave the team this off-season via free agency and retirement, respectively.