Blue Jays pluck Colabello off waivers from Twins

First baseman adds depth at position, where Toronto aims to create competition

Blue Jays pluck Colabello off waivers from Twins

SAN DIEGO -- The Blue Jays added depth to their roster by claiming first baseman Chris Colabello off waivers from the Twins on Monday morning.

Toronto had been looking for at least one additional first baseman to compete with Justin Smoak. Edwin Encarnacion is expected to receive most of his at-bats out of the designated-hitter spot in 2015.

Colabello is coming off a season in which he hit .229 with six home runs and 39 RBIs. He was among the league leaders in hitting throughout April, but he then saw his production drop, which cost him a starting job.

"I'm excited that somebody else is happy to give me an opportunity, and I'm happy to contribute in any way I can," Colabello said in a phone interview with MLB.com. "I'm thankful to the Twins for the opportunity they gave me in the past, and I'm looking forward to a new beginning."

The 31-year-old Colabello received a lot of attention for his production in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He hit .368 with two home runs and seven RBIs in five games for Italy. Minnesota took notice, and Colabello made his Major League debut later that year.

Colabello began his career by playing seven seasons in the independent Can-Am League. He's the Can-Am League's all-time leader with 699 hits, 166 doubles, 420 RBIs and 387 runs. He was named the 2011 Independent Leagues Player of the Year after hitting .348 with 20 homers and 79 RBIs for the Worcester Tornadoes.

"From when I was a little kid, I always dreamt about playing in the big leagues," Colabello said. "As long as I have a chance, no matter how big or small, I'm going to try to take advantage of that opportunity as much as I can."

Bringing in Colabello doesn't necessarily mean the Blue Jays are done adding players at first base. Colabello has an option remaining on his contract, and it's possible he could start the year at Triple-A Buffalo to give the organization flexibility.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.