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Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jason Frasor delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning of an American League MLB baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida, June 9, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Blanco

BRIAN BLANCO

The Toronto Blue Jays and reliever Jason Frasor avoided arbitration by agreeing to a US$3.5-million, one-year deal with a club option for 2012 on Friday night.

Frasor had been seeking $3.725-million while the team offered $3.25-million when figures were exchanged earlier this month, and they settled right at the midpoint for 2011.

Blue Jays policy under general manager Alex Anthopoulos is to settle all one-year deals in a hearing room once arbitration figures are exchanged, but the club option worth $3.75-million for 2012 allowed them to get around that.

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Home run king Jose Bautista is the team's sole remaining arbitration-eligible player, and the sides are much further apart on that one.

Bautista asked for $10.5-million while the Blue Jays countered at $7.6-million. The arbitrator must choose one number or the other if they get to a hearing, something the club hasn't done since going with reliever Bill Risley in 1997.

Frasor, 33, was 3-4 with four saves and a 3.68 ERA in 69 games last season. With seven seasons in Toronto under his belt, he's now the club's longest-tenured player.

The recent additions of right-handers Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel - all up for the closer's job - seemed to have put Frasor's role on the team into some question.

Anthopoulos said earlier this week that the team will go with either seven or eight relievers out of camp, meaning Frasor, Shawn Camp, David Purcey, Casey Janssen, Jesse Carlson, Jo-Jo Reyes and others are fighting over four or five spots.

Having Frasor under contract with a club option could potentially make him more attractive to other clubs in need of bullpen help down the road. Relief depth is also very appealing for Anthopoulos and new manager John Farrell.

The bullpen will be especially important for the Blue Jays, who will again feature a young starting rotation with some unproven members.

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Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil are expected to fill the front three spots, with rookie phenom Kyle Drabek and Jesse Litsch, who is coming off elbow surgery in 2009 and hip surgery last year, top candidates for the back end.

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