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Blue Jays, Rasmus avoid arbitration with one-year deal

Blue Jays, Rasmus avoid arbitration with one-year deal
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have avoided arbitration with outfielder Colby Rasmus by signing him to a one-year contract worth $4.67 million.

The 26-year-old Rasmus was one of four prominent Blue Jays players who were eligible for salary arbitration this offseason. J.A. Happ, Emilio Bonifacio and Josh Thole remain unsigned in advance of Friday's deadline to exchange salary figures.

Toronto has an organizational philosophy to not sign anyone to a one-year contract after the figures have been exchanged. Once that process is started, a hearing would be scheduled and an independent arbitrator would then decide which of the two salary proposals will be put in place for the 2013 season.

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Rasmus is coming off somewhat of a bounce-back season. Following a disappointing 2011 campaign, the native of Columbus, Ga., hit 23 homers and 75 RBIs while posting a .689 OPS in 151 games.

There was a stretch from late May through early July that Rasmus was one of the best hitting outfielders in the game. He posted a .299 average with a .970 OPS during that span of 44 games but struggled with consistency the rest of the year.

Rasmus also battled a groin injury during the final month of the season which appeared to impact his ability not only at the plate but in the field as well. He is expected to be completely healthy for the start of Spring Training.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos now shifts his focus to the remaining three arbitration-eligible players. Happ is expected to be in line for approximately $3.8 million, Bonifacio around $2.5 million and Thole at a rate close to $1.2 million.

Toronto hasn't taken anyone to a hearing since right-hander Bill Risley in 1997, but the club nearly had two cases last year. Right-handers Casey Janssen and Brandon Morrow were set for arbitration until they both signed multiyear extensions with the Blue Jays.

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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