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Blue Jays avoid arbitration with three

Blue Jays avoid arbitration with three

Blue Jays avoid arbitration with three
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with starter Dustin McGowan, reliever Jesse Litsch and catcher Jeff Mathis on Monday night by signing each player to a one-year contract.

Mathis is set to earn $1.5 million in 2012, Litsch is signed for $975,000 and McGowan will make $600,000.

Toronto also tendered contracts to its remaining six arbitration-eligible players: right-handers Casey Janssen, Brandon Morrow and Carlos Villanueva; second baseman Kelly Johnson; and outfielders Colby Rasmus and Ben Francisco.

The 26-year-old Litsch went 6-3 with a 4.44 ERA in 28 games last season. He began the year in the rotation before eventually making a transition to the bullpen. He's expected to assume a similar role with manager John Farrell's team in 2012.

McGowan became a heartwarming story for the Blue Jays in 2011. The native of Savannah, Ga., made his return to the Major Leagues following a three-year absence caused by multiple surgeries.

The 29-year-old went 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA in five games, and he is expected to compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation during Spring Training. McGowan is 20-24 with a 4.80 ERA in 374 2/3 career innings in the big leagues.

Mathis, whom Toronto acquired from the Angels during the offseason for lefty Brad Mills, is scheduled to back up J.P. Arencibia behind the plate.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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