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Upton rejects Rays' one-year qualifying offer

ST. PETERSBURG -- B.J. Upton has declined the Rays' one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer.

By making the offer, the Rays positioned themselves to receive Draft-pick compensation if Upton signs with another team.

"This decision doesn't preclude us from continuing our dialogue with B.J.," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in an e-mail. "All it does is ensure that we receive something of value if B.J. signs elsewhere."

Now that Upton has passed, the team can get a better idea about what it will need to prepare for next season, as it is unlikely the two sides will engage in any contract negotiations. Whether Tampa Bay will go outside the organization to find another center fielder or fill that position internally remains to be seen.

"I'm looking forward to exploring the free-agent process and seeing what happens," Upton said. "This decision doesn't necessarily close the door on the Rays but now it's time to focus on the next phase of my career."

Upton has spent his entire career with the Rays after being selected with the second pick of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

He hit a career-high 28 home runs in 2012, while hitting .246 with 78 RBIs and 31 stolen bases.

Tampa Bay Rays, B.J. Upton