NEW YORK -- The Yankees have declined their 2012 option on left-hander Damaso Marte, making the reliever a free agent.

Following the 2008 season, Marte signed a three-year, $12 million agreement with a club option for 2012, though he did not throw a single pitch for the Yankees at the Major League level this year.

Sidelined by left labrum surgery last October, Marte, 36, attempted to make his way back this year by working out at the club's Tampa, Fla., facility, but suffered setbacks. The Yankees will pay Marte a $250,000 buyout instead of a $4 million salary for '12.

Marte was 1-3 with a 6.39 ERA in 51 regular season appearances for New York in 2009 and '10, but his greatest contribution came in the '09 playoffs and World Series. Between the ALCS against the Angels and the World Series against the Phillies, Marte faced 12 batters in seven games and retired them all, striking out five.

In the clinching Game 6 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, Marte fanned both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, striking them out on six pitches total, as the Yankees went on to secure their 27th championship.

He has a career record of 23-27 with a 3.48 ERA over 570 appearances with the Mariners, Pirates, White Sox and Yankees since breaking in to the big leagues in 1999.