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04/30/12 3:36 PM ET

Cantu opts out with Angels, becomes free agent

ANAHEIM -- Veteran corner infielder Jorge Cantu opted out of his Minor League contract with the Angels on Monday and is now a free agent.

Cantu, 30, was signed over the offseason and began the 2012 campaign with Triple-A Salt Lake, after not making the Opening Day roster despite a .277 batting average and 10 RBIs in 25 spring games. He batted .291 with four homers and 22 RBIs in his first 21 games for the Salt Lake Bees, before exercising his previously negotiated May 1 opt-out a day early.

At the start of the season, the Angels opted to go with utility man Alexi Amerista as their 14th position player because of his versatility and speed. Cantu originally signed with the Angels in anticipation that a trade would be made, but with a bevy of corner-infield options still on the roster -- Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis -- the Mexico native simply didn't see a fit.

"He gave it a month, played well for us and was a great influence while he was here," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He wants to get back to the big leagues and didn't see the fit here."

Cantu, who can still play third and first base effectively, burst onto the scene mostly as a second baseman with the Rays, posting an .808 OPS in his first full season in 2005. He was then an effective middle-of-the-order hitter for a couple of years with the Marlins, hitting 29 homers in '08 and driving in 100 runs in '09.

But Cantu struggled after a midseason trade to the Rangers the following season, then batted just .194 in 57 games with the Padres last year.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.