Kawasaki, Johnson, Kottaras outrighted to Triple-A

Kawasaki, Johnson, Kottaras outrighted to Triple-A

The Blue Jays outrighted three players -- Munenori Kawasaki, Dan Johnson and George Kottaras -- to Triple-A on Friday, and Johnson and Kottaras have both elected free agency.

The decision to outright Kawasaki off the 40-man roster was a mere formality because of a clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos explained Kawasaki's situation during his news conference with a large group of reporters on the final day of the regular season.

"He's eligible for free agency, it's just a clause in his contract," Anthopoulos said. "Just about every Japanese player that comes over now, they're not part of the reserve. You don't get them for six or seven years and go through arbitration unless they're an amateur and so on.

"I think we'll look to bring him back. I think that goes without saying. I haven't talked to him. I don't know what his desires are. I don't think the finances have ever been an issue for him. My understanding is he can make more money in Japan, but he's wanted to play here. We'll see. I don't know what his goals are for the offseason, but at some point we'll sit down with him."

Kawasaki appeared in 82 games for the Blue Jays this season and posted a .258 average with a .327 on-base percentage. It's unlikely that Toronto would want to give him a guaranteed deal, but there's a chance he would be willing to accept another Minor League contract.

Johnson was eligible for arbitration and his departure from the 40-man roster had been expected since the end of the year. The 35-year-old spent the majority of the 2014 season in Triple-A Buffalo, and he appeared in only 15 games with the Blue Jays.

Kottaras played for three Major League clubs this year (Toronto, Cleveland and St. Louis), appearing in a total of 14 big league games. He played in four for the Blue Jays, and owns a career .215 average with 32 homers and 101 RBIs.

Toronto currently has 37 players on its 40-man roster. That number will change when other players become free agents, while Maicer Izturis, Brett Lawrie, Chad Jenkins and Melky Cabrera will have to be activated from the 60-day disabled list.

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