Rox decline options on Torrealba, Embree
Backup catcher played integral role during playoff chase
DENVER -- Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba was a key figure in the team's run to the playoffs in 2009, but there's no guarantee he'll return in 2010.
The Rockies declined a $4 million option on Torrealba's contract, and he filed for free agency on Friday. The Rockies also declined a $3 million option on left-handed reliever Alan Embree.
Torrealba, 31, hit .291 during a rollercoaster regular season. He had to deal with the kidnapping and eventual release of his son and two relatives in Venezuela, and he missed nearly two months of the season.
But after his return, Torrealba grasped the catching job from the slumping Chris Iannetta and hit .324 during the second half of the season. His .313 average in September was a key factor in the Rockies grabbing the National League Wild Card.
Torrealba hit two home runs all regular season but hit one against the Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Division Series -- the Rockies' only victory. Torrealba hit .357 with four RBIs in the NLDS.
The Rockies are expected to attempt to retain Torrealba. But the Rockies expect a rebound from Iannetta, who went from .264 in 2008 to .218 in 2009, and did not want to make the high-dollar commitment to Torrealba, who can now compare the Rockies' offer to those of other suitors.
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Torrealba is classified as a Type B free agent, meaning if he signs elsewhere, the Rockies will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, but the team signing him will not lose a pick.
Embree, who will turn 40 on Jan. 23, was 2-2 with a 5.84 ERA in 36 games until he suffered a broken bone in his right leg when hit by a line drive by the Braves' Martin Prado on July 10.
Torrealba, who received a $500,000 buyout, and Embree, who received a $250,000 buyout, join right-handed starting pitcher Jason Marquis and first baseman Jason Giambi as Rockies who have filed for free agency.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.