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Blue Jays decide to non-tender Arencibia

Blue Jays decide to non-tender Arencibia

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Blue Jays decide to non-tender Arencibia

TORONTO -- J.P. Arencibia and the Blue Jays have officially parted ways after it was announced the club declined to tender a contract offer to the fourth-year catcher.

Toronto had until Monday night at 11:59 p.m. ET to tender contracts to its arbitration-eligible players. Outfielder Colby Rasmus, left-hander Brett Cecil and right-hander Esmil Rogers received tenders, but the same can't be said for the former first-round Draft pick.

Arencibia is now a free agent, and the Blue Jays will not receive any compensation when he signs elsewhere. He technically could still return to Toronto, but that would seem extremely unlikely following Monday's decision and an overall tumultuous 2013 season.

The decision does come at least as somewhat of a surprise. General manager Alex Anthopoulos likely exhausted all trade possibilities but obviously couldn't find any takers for the right-handed bat that has hit at least 20 homers in two of the past three seasons. The biggest obstacle was the more than $2.5 million Arencibia was set to earn in arbitration later this offseason.

Still, it's an abrupt end for a player who was looked upon as a future cornerstone of the organization when he broke into the league back in 2010. Arencibia endeared himself to the fan base by posting promising numbers with Triple-A Las Vegas and then hitting two home runs in his big league debut.

Arencibia's first season went relatively well, and while there were some signs of trouble in 2012, the real issues didn't surface until this year. His average dropped 39 points to .194 and his .227 on-base percentage would have ranked last in the Major Leagues if he had enough at-bats to qualify.

The native of Miami finished tied for second among all catchers with 21 homers and recorded 55 RBIs, but that was mostly offset by a total of just 39 extra-base hits, a .365 slugging percentage and .592 OPS. He also struck out an alarming 148 times and didn't seem to change his approach at the plate despite statements to the contrary.

The low point for Arencibia likely came when he went public with his complaints regarding a pair of Blue Jays analysts during a midseason radio interview. Arencibia later abruptly disappeared from Twitter in part because of negativity he was hearing from fans as his struggles continued.

Despite his detractors, Arencibia also departs as one of the more popular players on the team by some sections of the fan base. He was very active in the community and seemed to embrace his role as an ambassador for the team by volunteering every year for the club's Winter Tour across Canada. Arencibia also had durability on his side after having appeared in at least 100 games each of the past three years at a very difficult position.

There was reason for optimism in the beginning, but now both sides can only hope that a fresh start is best for all those involved. Toronto turned the page earlier Monday by signing free agent Dioner Navarro. The hope for Toronto is that Navarro will be able to at least somewhat maintain the production that saw the 10-year veteran hit .300 in 89 games with the Cubs this past season.

Arencibia has the ability to choose his next home, but the options may be limited. The Marlins, Twins and Rangers are among those in the market for help behind the plate, but free agent A.J. Pierzynski is still available and the trade market includes Cincinnati's Ryan Hanigan and the Angels' Chris Iannetta or Hank Conger.

Wherever he goes, Arencibia likely won't be able to earn the $2.7 million he was set to make in Toronto next year. The trade market was limited at best, and Arencibia will have to settle for becoming a buy-low candidate while the Blue Jays move on without him.

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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