December 1, 2017

A Rare Bird

Not Driven by the almighty dollar, Marco Estrada follows his Heart

“I love it here…It’s like home for me”

How many times have you heard a pending free agent say this, when asked about the possibility of re-signing with their current team?

They mean well but we all know that money talks, and at the end of the day, they will sign the largest deal they can get. David Price is an example of how that doesn’t always work out as planned.

Twice over the last 3 years, I’ve heard Marco Estrada talk about his desire to stay with the Blue Jays, and both times I whole heartedly believed him. Many thought I was naive, but both times he stood by his word. Rather than test the waters and hold out for the biggest offer, he stayed where he feels the most comfortable.

This is not only rare, it’s shocking. Yes, money will never be an issue for Estrada and his family, regardless of where he were to sign. The thing about money though is, the more we have, the more we want. Estrada is the exception to that rule. For him, it’s all about where he feels he wants to be.

You may look at the fact he only signed for one year, as him keeping his options open to cash in on a big payday in 2019. There’s a couple of reasons why I don’t buy that. First, there’s a much bigger risk for him with a 1 year deal. If he’s injured or underperforms next season, he won’t get anywhere near the 13 million dollars he signed for, when he becomes a free agent again in 2019. Second, if he wanted to test the waters, he would have done that already, especially after his performance in 2015.

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know hundreds of athletes over the years, but Estrada is one of the very few who says what he means, is sincere, and cares about so much more than where he will buy his next mansion.

When he joined us on episode 17 of Outta the Park last month, Estrada was very open and candid about his struggles. Rather than make a bunch of excuses, he pointed the finger directly at himself. . Even when some fans turned on him and predicted he would never return to form, Marco kept a smile on his face, and put his focus on what he can do to get better. Since that day, he certainly has, pitching to a 3.75 ERA, and holding opponents to a .227 average. Not the numbers he put in 2015 or 16, but a huge step forward.

Being a good, honest guy doesn’t make you a great player, but in Marco Estrada, the Jays and their fans are fortunate to have a guy who possess both qualities. What a shame that there aren’t more like him.

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