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Marco Estrada avoids qualifying offer, gets 2-year deal with Blue Jays

Estrada had a 3.13 ERA in 34 games for Toronto in 2015, including 28 starts.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Starting pitcher Marco Estrada had a choice to make on Friday afternoon regarding the one-year qualifying offer in front of him, but instead worked out a two-year contract worth $26 million to return to the Toronto Blue Jays, per Shi Davidi and Mike Wilner of SportsNet and confirmed by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

The deal is done pending a physical, per those reports. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the two sides were working on a deal on Thursday night.

Estrada was one of 20 free agents to receive a qualifying offer last Friday. That gave him a choice: accept a one-year, $15.8 million contract to stay with his old team, or hit the open market as a free agent and ensure his old team a draft pick should he sign elsewhere.

Any team that signs a free agent who declined a qualifying offer would have to forfeit a high 2016 draft pick, which could adversely affect the market for someone like Estrada, who has averaged just 150 innings per year over the last four seasons and has never made 30 starts in a season.

Estrada had his best season in 2015 for the Jays at age 31, going 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA in 34 games, including 28 starts, with 131 strikeouts and 55 walks in 181 innings. He was 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in three postseason starts for Toronto, with 15 strikeouts and one walk.

Estrada made $3.9 million in his final year of salary arbitration in 2015.

In the first three years of the qualifying offer system, 34 free agents received qualifying offers and all 34 declined. So far this year, Colby Rasmus of the Houston Astros and Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles were the first two to accept. The deadline to accept or decline the qualifying offer is Friday at 5 p.m. ET.