Double Play: Blue Jays fail to sign three of top four picks

Daan De Kerpel
8/18/2009 11:59:15 AM
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Another week and another kick in the pants for Blue Jays fans.

First it was the seemingly endless discussion of Roy Halladay, then last week there was the Alex Rios waiver claim. Now, lost in the hubbub of Stephen Strasburg's record signing with the Washington Nationals is the news that the Jays couldn't sign three of their top four draft picks by the deadline.

Two of those players, James Paxton of Ladner, BC (37th overall) and Jake Eliopoulos of New Market, ON (68th overall) were Canadian.

Am I saying that because the guys were Canadian that they should have signed with the Jays regardless of what was offered? 

Of course not.

I wasn't privy to the negotiations, and I'm not sure how far apart the team was with the two Canadians or the other player, Jake Barrett (99th overall), but the optics of not getting deals done aren't good.

First of all, the team made a concerted effort to try to brand itself as Canada's team by adding a maple leaf to their jerseys, and according to writer Will Hill, who formerly worked in the front office with the club, that was all part of interm president Paul Beeston's plan.

Of the nine Canadian players the Jays selected at the MLB Draft this year, care to guess how many of them signed with the club?


Former shortstop Tony Fernandez's son, who was taken in the 34th round.

For the most part, I think the "Buy Canadian" plan can be put on the scrap heap next to "Contending in 2010" and "Financial Flexibility."

I know that the Jays went over slot to add their first round pick Chad Jenkins (20th) overall, which means that for the first time in a long time they were willing to spend the money that contending clubs do to get talent in their system.

But not being able to build off that signing and missing out on the next three picks I think would be demoralizing.

Paxton is represented by Scott Boras, and the Jays have traditionally stayed away from Boras clients.  After Paxton was selected Boras reportedly said that his client wouldn't come cheap and it looks like he wasn't bluffing.

The fact that Eliopoulos didn't sign is a head scratcher, again I'm not sure what the club offered or what the player was looking for, but considering the all the money that the team shed off of its payroll in recent weeks, you would hope that a few hundred thousand dollars wouldn't have held things up.

The other interesting thing to note in all of this is that both Paxton and Barrett were selected with picks the Jays were awarded for losing A.J. Burnett to free agency last season.

While the Jays don't lose the picks for the players they didn't sign as next season they'll get compensatory picks, the team does lose a year of seasoning with the players in their organization. A year like that can be important for a rebuilding team and that's what the Blue Jays are.

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