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Erik Bedard could opt out of Rays contract

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The veteran left-hander will test the free agent market after losing out on the Rays' fifth starter job.

UPDATE (12:30 AM): The source now clarifies, saying that Bedard will opt out of his deal if the Rays do not add him to their 25-man roster before Opening Day. Bedard is willing to work in relief for the Rays if they view him as a potential member of their bullpen, and would be open to signing as a reliever with another team if he opts out of the deal. He is not willing to go to Triple-A, however, meaning that he will either join the Rays as a reliever or become a free agent. The ball is in the Rays' court now.

ORIGINAL: Left-hander Erik Bedard will opt out of his minor league contract with the Rays and become a free agent after losing the fifth-starter competition to Jake Odorizzi, according to a baseball source. Tampa hoped that the 35-year old would head to Triple-A to provide rotation depth, but he will instead test the free agent market to see if major league opportunities elsewhere.

In five games (three starts) with the Rays this spring, Bedard was 2-2 with a 6.88 ERA in 17 innings of work. The Rays opted to go with Odorizzi, who was acquired in the James Shields-Wil Myers blockbuster last winter, in what manager Joe Maddon admitted was a difficult decision.

While Bedard's opt-out clause is technically scheduled for March 25th, the team is likely to grant him his release this weekend in order to allow him to pursue other opportunities. He will hope to latch on with a team looking for rotation help within the next couple of days.