TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays are bringing back a key piece of their rotation next season.
The team announced Wednesday that it has signed right-hander Marco Estrada to a US$13-million, one-year contract extension, keeping him in a Blue Jays uniform for a fourth straight year. Estrada would have been eligible for free agency after this season.
"I knew in my heart I wanted to come back," Estrada said. "It's the right move for me."
Estrada raced out to a hot start in 2017 before cooling considerably over the middle portion of the season. The 34-year-old regained his form in August and has continued to pitch well into September, allowing three earned runs or less in nine of his last 11 starts.
He has 170 strikeouts this year, surpassing his previous career high of 165 from 2016.
Estrada is 9-8 with a 4.84 earned-run average over 31 starts this season and is 31-25 with a 3.81 ERA over three combined years as a Blue Jay.
"It was pretty easy to decide to come back," he said. "I feel really happy here. I love the way the fans have treated me, even through these rough stretches that I've had this year. In June and July, I felt a lot of love and support.
"Those little things mean the world to me. That's what made this decision so easy to come back."
Estrada initially came to Toronto in an off-season trade with the Brewers that sent first baseman Adam Lind to Milwaukee in 2014. The Blue Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year deal before the 2016 season.
He had been vocal about his desire to remain in Toronto and reiterated that after his last home start on Sept. 11, a 4-3 win over Baltimore in which he allowed two runs.
"If I can show that I'm back to my normal self, what I've done for the last few years for these guys maybe they'll want me back," Estrada said. "I'm hoping to come back. I'm trying to show them I'm still that guy. I've just got to keep pitching well."
Estrada figures to slot into the 2018 rotation with Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ. A fifth starter is yet to be determined.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins was scheduled to hold a media availability before Wednesday night's game against the Kansas City Royals.