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The 28-year-old Brown was once considered one of the top prospects in the game, but his career has not panned out as expected. With the exception of an appearance at the 2013 All-Star Game, Brown has mostly struggled, with a career .246 average and 54 home runs in 493 games at the big league level.
"He had a big year when he played in the All-Star Game a couple of years ago when [Brett] Cecil and [Steve] Delabar were there," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Bring him into camp and see what he can do, see what he's got left. More depth, that's one thing we've been concentrated on, adding depth at different positions this year in the organization, and we'll see how it all works out."
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Brown was selected by the Phillies in the 20th round of the 2006 Draft, and he had spent his entire career with the organization before becoming a free agent for the first time after the team outrighted him in October. The outfielder batted .293 with 62 home runs and 314 RBIs in 594 games at the Minor League level.
Brown's best season with the Phillies came in 2013, when he posted career bests in batting average (.272), home runs (27), RBIs (83) and slugging percentage (.494). Brown slumped to a .235 average with 10 home runs in '14, and last year he batted just .228 with five homers in 63 games.
The signing is not meant to be an indictment of Blue Jays prospect Dalton Pompey, who is competing for a job in the outfield. Gibbons previously said that if Pompey is not the everyday left fielder, then the club wants him to receive regular at-bats in the Minors instead of spending time on the bench.
"With Dalton, he came up in September a couple of years ago and then he had the job last year, it didn't go well," Gibbons said. "He came back up and finished strong. With him, we want to make sure he is good and ready. We don't want a situation where he's on the team and the next thing you know we have to send him back. It happened one time, and hopefully that's enough. Dalton, that job is his for a long time, if he takes it and seizes it and becomes the player everybody thinks he can be. He'll determine when that time is."
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.