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11/13/09 11:20 AM EST

Royals sign Bellorin to Minors contract

Catcher joins KC; Yabuta opts for free agency

KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Edwin Bellorin, who played sparingly for the Rockies in the last three seasons, has signed a Minor League contract with the Royals.

Bellorin, 27, played in a total of eight games for the Rockies, going 3-for-13. A right-handed hitter, he batted .277 last season with Triple-A Colorado Springs. In nine seasons and 676 games in the Minors, he has a .269 average, 29 homers and 325 RBIs.

From Bolivar, Venezuela, the 5-foot-9, 225-pound Bellorin originally signed with the Dodgers in 1998.

The Royals also announced that pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta has elected free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Omaha. That effectively ends Yabuta's stay with the Royals.

Signed to a two-year, $6 million deal from Japan prior to the 2008 season, Yabuta struggled in the Majors with a 7.14 ERA and a 3-4 record in 43 relief outings. After the 2009 season, the Royals declined to exercise a $4 million option on his contract.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.