Blue Jays exercise 2015 options on Happ, Thole

J.A. Happ (AP)

The Toronto Blue Jays exercised the 2015 options of left-hander J.A. Happ ($6.7 million) and catcher Josh Thole ($1.75 million), the team announced Saturday.

The club also exercised Adam Lind’s option before trading him to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-hander Marco Estrada.

Mike Wilner on Twitter: “AA: Won’t say what our top priorities are, but looking to improve ‘pen, OF, make sure we’re still an elite offensive team. #Bluejays #Jays”

However, the Blue Jays declined the options for right-hander Dustin McGowan ($4 million option/$500,000 buyout), right-hander Brandon Morrow ($10 million option/$1 million buyout), right-hander Sergio Santos ($6 million option/$750,000 buyout) and first-baseman Justin Smoak ($3.65 million option/$150,000 buyout).

McGowan, Morrow and Santos are now free agents who will be free to sign with any team once free agency opens in earnest Tuesday.

Mike Wilner on Twitter: “AA: Spoke to all players on whom we had options. Morrow wants to start, no room in rotation, love to have him back in ‘pen #Bluejays #Jays”

Mike Wilner on Twitter: “AA: Still view Sanchez long-term as a starter. Don’t know what the off-season will bring but we have 5 starters now. #Bluejays #Jays”

Smoak remains under team control via the arbitration process even though the team declined his option. He should expect a 2015 arbitration salary in the $3 million range, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Santos had a difficult season in 2014, posting an 8.57 ERA in 26 appearances with the Blue Jays. He battled command issues (18 walks in 21 innings) and had a stint on the disabled list due to right forearm soreness.

However, he was extremely effective as recently as 2013, when he posted a 1.75 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 25.2 innings. The Blue Jays initially acquired him from the Chicago White Sox for Nestor Molina in December of 2011.

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