Chris Colabello elects to become a free agent

Toronto Blue Jays' Chris Colabello. (Fred Thornhill/CP)

TORONTO — Chris Colabello‘s turbulent two-year run with the Toronto Blue Jays came to an end Tuesday when he elected to become a free agent.

The veteran first baseman helped the Blue Jays return to the post-season in 2015 but his big-league career flamed out last April when he was suspended 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Colabello tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), an anabolic steroid sold under the name Turinabol. He said he did not know how the drug appeared in his system.

When Colabello’s suspension ended in July, the Blue Jays designated him off their 25-man roster and he spent the rest of the season in the minor leagues.

Colabello’s formal departure from the team was confirmed Tuesday in a brief statement on the Blue Jays’ media relations Twitter feed.

"Chris Colabello elects free agency as opposed to an outright assignment," the tweet said.

The 33-year-old native of Framingham, Mass., had been outrighted off the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster last Friday after clearing waivers.

Colabello played seven years at the independent league level before signing as a free agent with the Minnesota Twins in 2012. He spent parts of two seasons in the Twins’ system before making his big-league debut in 2013.

He posted mediocre statistics in 55 games for the Twins that year and again over 59 games in 2014. The Blue Jays selected Colabello off waivers in December 2014.

Colabello played in 101 games for Toronto last year, becoming a feel-good story as a longtime minor-leaguer who shone once he got a chance to play regularly in the big leagues for a contender.

He was one of the Blue Jays’ most dependable hitters in 2015 with a .321 batting average and an .886 OPS (on-base plus slugging). Colabello, who mostly played at first base and left field, also hit 15 homers and drove in 54 runs.

In the playoffs, he had one homer and a .375 average in Toronto’s five-game win over the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series. Colabello had one homer and a .217 average in the Blue Jays’ six-game loss to the Kansas City Royals in the AL Championship Series.

His numbers in 2016 took a significant dive.

Colabello batted just .069 through 10 games last season before his 80-game ban was announced. Once he returned, he hit .185 with five homers in 45 minor-league games.

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