NEW YORK -- The Yankees declined the contract option of left-handed reliever Damaso Marte on Thursday, officially making him a free agent.
Marte, 33, had a $6 million option on his contract for 2009, which the Yankees bought out for $250,000. Because he provisionally filed for free agency the previous day, Marte hit the market as soon as the Yankees officially declined his option.
Joining the Yankees in the midseason trade that also brought outfielder Xavier Nady to the Bronx for four players, Marte finished 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in 25 appearances after the swap. With the Pirates, he was 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA and five saves, adding up to an overall season ERA of 4.02.
It's possible that Marte could still return to New York for less than the $6 million the Yankees otherwise would have owed him. The Bronx Bombers almost certainly will offer Marte arbitration, ensuring that they will receive a compensatory Draft pick if Marte, a Type A free agent, signs with another club.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.