By Andrew Hendriks
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, Fla -- Ten days after clearing waivers, outfielder Ezequiel Carrera has been granted his unconditional release.
The move comes only a season removed from the 30-year-old Venezuelan's finest big league season that saw him establish career-bests in games played (131), batting average (.271), on-base percentage (.356), slugging percentage (.408) and home runs (8).
"(Carrera's) done a tremendous job for us over the last few years," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons before Toronto's game vs. the Pirates on Sunday. "It's business. The way we've configured the team, there's no spot for him. Now he's got a chance to catch on somewhere else."
Simply put, Toronto's outfield picture is of the crowded variety, and it was unlikely that Carrera could have regained his spot on the team's 40-man roster without a harsh run of general misfortune.
Barring injuries, Steve Pearce and Curtis Granderson will platoon in left, Kevin Pillar will remain in centre and Randal Grichuk will man right. In the minors, talent such as Anthony Alford, Teoscar Hernandez, Dalton Pompey and Dwight Smith Jr. all hold spots on the team's active 40-man. Adding another outfielder would have meant sacrificing talent options at other positions, and Carerra found himself caught in the numbers.
"He's one of the good guys, and he was very productive," added Gibbons, who expects Carrera to catch on with another organization this spring. "Any time you have to cut a guy loose who's done a lot for you, a guy you enjoy seeing every day, it's tough."
After tendering him a 1-year, $1.9M deal in January, the Blue Jays are now on the hook to pay only 1/6th of Carrera's would-be salary for the 2018 campaign.
Among others, Carrera joins a group of unsigned free-agent outfielders that includes former Blue Jays Jose Bautista, Jayson Werth, Chris Coghlan and Melky Cabrera.
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