Jays non-tender Chavez, creating need

Jays non-tender Chavez, creating need

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are now in the market for a pair of catchers for the 2010 season. On Saturday night, Toronto decided against tendering a contract to veteran backup catcher Raul Chavez, sending him to the pool of this offseason's free agents.

The Blue Jays offered contracts to each of their eight remaining arbitration-eligible players, including utility man Jose Bautista, along with pitchers Jeremy Accardo, Shawn Camp, Jason Frasor, Brandon League, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and Brian Tallet.

With Chavez now a free agent, the Blue Jays do not currently have an in-house solution for the starting or backup role with the big league club. Last year's starter, Rod Barajas, is a free agent this offseason and is not expected to re-sign with Toronto. J.P. Arencibia -- Toronto's top catching prospect -- will likely need more time to develop in the Minors.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has noted that he is exploring all avenues in search for a new catcher for 2010. Toronto has been linked to Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit in trade rumors, and the Jays are believed to also have interest in Angels catcher Mike Napoli. The Angels are considered one of the favorites to land Jays ace Roy Halladay in a trade this offseason.

Chavez, 36, signed a Minor League contract with the Blue Jays last offseason and appeared in 51 games with Toronto in 2009. He finished hitting .258 with two home runs and 15 RBIs while earning $500,000 as the Blue Jays' primary backup.

On Friday night, Accardo's agent, Damon Lapa, indicated that the reliever -- unhappy with the events of last season -- was hoping not to be tendered a contract for the upcoming season. The Jays still offered Accardo a contract, but it is possible that the club will attempt to move the pitcher in a trade this offseason.

Last year, the Jays took advantage of the fact that Accardo still had a player option, sending him back and forth between Triple-A Las Vegas and Toronto throughout the year. As a result, Accardo's service time remains just shy of four years, meaning it will take an extra year for him to be eligible for free agency.

In the 26 games Accardo appeared in for the Blue Jays this past season, the 27-year-old posted a 2.55 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 17 walks over 24 2/3 innings. Two years earlier, Accardo saved 30 games and fashioned a 2.14 ERA while former Jays closer B.J. Ryan was sidelined with an injury.

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