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12/08/09 3:10 AM EST

Barajas declines Blue Jays' offer

Catcher expected to move on, helping Toronto's Draft status

INDIANAPOLIS -- As anticipated, free-agent catcher Rod Barajas declined the Blue Jays' one-year arbitration offer before Monday's midnight ET deadline. The decision could net another pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft if Barajas signs with a new team.

The Jays are in line to have as many as nine picks within the first three rounds of the next Draft. Toronto gained two compensatory picks after shortstop Marco Scutaro -- a Type A free agent this offseason -- declined arbitration and signed a two-year contract with the American League East rival Red Sox. Unless Boston signs a higher-ranking free agent this offseason, Toronto will receive a first-round and sandwich-round pick in return for losing Scutaro.

Barajas, 34, qualified as a Type B free agent this offseason, meaning the Blue Jays will receive a sandwich selection between the first and second rounds of the 2010 Draft if he does not re-sign with the club. Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has indicated that it is highly unlikely that Barajas will return to Toronto for the upcoming season.

After a solid 2009 showing with the Blue Jays, Barajas will most likely receive a multiyear contract with another team. Last year, he appeared in a career-high 125 games, hitting .226 with 19 home runs and a career-high 71 RBIs. In two seasons with the Jays, Barajas has hit .237 with 30 homers and 120 RBIs over 229 games.

On Monday at the Winter Meetings, Anthopoulos noted that he is still exploring free-agent and trade options in his search for a starting catcher for the 2010 season. Toronto has expressed interest in free-agent backstop Yorvit Torrealba, and the club has also engaged in preliminary trade discussions this offseason with the Pirates about Ryan Doumit.

The lone catcher currently on the Jays' 40-man roster is Raul Chavez, but Anthopoulos does not feel the veteran can fill the job on a full-time basis. The Jays are searching for a short-term solution in the starting role to buy time as highly regarded catching prospect J.P. Arencibia continues his development in the Minor Leagues.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.