Blue Jays: Looking back at high valued draft picks who didn’t sign
In recent years, the Toronto Blue Jays have done very well in the amateur draft, selecting top prospects Austin Martin, Alek Manoah, and Jordan Groshans while building a top ten farm system. While the Blue Jays have had their fair share of draft successes and busts in recent memory, some players just didn’t end up signing on the dotted line when the deadline came and went even though they were selected high in the draft.
Here’s a look at some of those players who were drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and choose not to sign with the organization.
James Paxton – LHP
Drafted: 37th overall in the CA in 2009
Born in Ladner, British Columbia, the Blue Jays drafting southpaw James Paxton seemed like a Hallmark movie in the making with a Canadian being selected by the only major league baseball team stationed North of the border. The Jays’ selected Paxton in the supplemental first round as compensation for losing A.J. Burnett in free agency the prior off-season
Pitching for the University of Kentucky at the time, Paxton and the organization could not reach an agreement on a signing bonus, with the Jays questioning super-agent Scott Boras’s involvement in the negotiations (as amateur players cannot have legal representation while playing in the NCAA), with Paxton eventually suing the university and playing independent ball the next year.
Paxton would be selected by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round next season and has pitched to a 3.59 ERA over 754.2 innings with 231 walks and 831 strikeouts while with the Mariners and the New York Yankees. One of his biggest career accomplishments would be throwing a no-hitter against the Blue Jays in Rogers Centre back in 2018.
Paxton recently signed a one-year deal to return to the Mariners this season, with the Blue Jays seeming interested in his services in the off-season. He would be forced to undergo Tommy John surgery after pitching just 1.1 innings in his first start of the season, sidelining him until at least next year.
For failing to sign Paxton, the Jays selected Noah Syndeerguard next year at 38th overall as compensation.
Kris Bryant – 3B
Drafted: 546 overall in the 18th round in 2010
That’s right. The Toronto Blue Jays once drafted Kris Bryant.
While it wasn’t the highest draft selection that year, back when he was in high school, the right-handed infielder had a commitment to the University of San Diego and was not very interested in turning pro out at the time. The Jays still selected him in the 18th round, hoping he may change his mind.
This would not happen, as the two sides apparently never sat down for a meeting and the organization never really offered the future all-star a contract to try and convince him to forego his college commitment. Bryant would eventually be selected by the Chicago Cubs second overall in 2013, eventually winning an MVP award and a World Series with the Cubs organization.
Through seven seasons, the third baseman sports a career .282/.381/.513 slash line with 152 home runs, 442 RBI, and a .894 OPS. The third baseman is a free agent at the end of the campaign and there are some rumours that the Cubs may move him around the trade deadline this year, with the Jays possibly in the mix for his services if the price is right.