Blue Jays notebook: Making sense of the reported Estrada waiver claim

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada heads to the dugout at the end of the first inning after giving up a home run in his first pitch against the Texas Rangers during American League MLB baseball action in Toronto on Saturday, May 27, 2017. (Chris Young/CP)

TORONTO – Marco Estrada has pitched much better of late, with a 2.08 ERA over his last four starts. Many contending teams lack answers at the back of their rotations as the season’s stretch run approaches.

Combined, those two factors suggest it’d be tough to pass Estrada through waivers right now, so it’s no surprise that he was claimed by an unknown team, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. But interest from other teams doesn’t mean the Blue Jays expect to trade him.

“Nothing’s going to happen,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Tuesday. “We need him. Most guys go through [waivers].”

Ultimately, it’s Ross Atkins, not Gibbons, who makes the call on Estrada’s future. Still, Atkins and Gibbons are in touch regularly and player personnel moves do come up in conversation.

“My gut tells me nothing’s going to happen and maybe my inside information, too,” Gibbons said.

An Estrada trade is tough to imagine for a few reasons. First off, the Blue Jays are just 3.5 games out of a wild-card berth. Holding on to Estrada increases their chances of making a late-season surge in the standings. Trading him would deplete an already-thin rotation while sending a discouraging message to the clubhouse and the 40,000-plus fans filling Rogers Centre nightly.

Then there’s the perspective of the claiming team. Picking up his salary — the pro-rated portion of $14.5 million — would be an easy call. But assuming the Blue Jays would need real talent in return, that’d be a lot to surrender for a pitcher with only seven or so starts remaining.

American League teams have waiver priority for Estrada, starting at the bottom of the standings. The Mariners, Angels and Royals are among the contending AL clubs that could use a capable starter, but it’s not clear if one of those teams was awarded the claim. Regardless, the Blue Jays can simply hold onto Estrada assuming they don’t work out a trade in the next 48 hours.

“I’d definitely keep him,” Gibbons said.

Estrada’s a free agent after the 2017 season, not that the Blue Jays are ruling out a reunion with the 34-year-old.

“I’d love to have him back, no doubt,” Gibbons said. “And he loves it here.”

For the next month and a half, at least, it sure sounds like Estrada will get to stay in Toronto.

ROTATION UPDATE:

Joe Biagini will make one more start for triple-A Buffalo, at which point the Blue Jays hope he can re-join the big-league rotation.

“I would think one more start should build him up enough,” Gibbons said.

Biagini pitched 3.0 innings in his first triple-A start, August 7, before completing 3.1 innings on August 12. If he starts in Buffalo Thursday, he’d be positioned to re-join the Blue Jays when they visit the Tampa Bay Rays next week.

While Biagini won’t be in Buffalo for long, the Bisons are about to add another starter. Assuming Brett Anderson passes his physical, the veteran left-hander provides the Blue Jays with some rotation insurance at triple-A.

“He’s always been a good pitcher, but he just couldn’t stay healthy,” said Gibbons.

COGHLAN RELEASED:

The Blue Jays officially announced the release of Chris Coghlan, whose most memorable moment with Toronto was undoubtedly his leap over Yadier Molina at home plate in St. Louis on April 25.