Back in late 2015, the Blue Jays were fresh off a playoff run that ended in the ALCS and a new sheriff was in town in the form of Mark Shapiro, taking over as President and CEO. Former general manager Alex Anthopoulos decided to head to the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and Shapiro found a new GM in an old co-worker, Ross Atkins.
Since then, Atkins and Shapiro have led the Blue Jays through a rebuild and also signed free agent players to some of the largest contracts in franchise history with the likes of Hyun Jin Ryu and George Springer deals. They have also drafted a pretty strong young core that is now finding a groove in the big leagues, which is setting them up to be a potential playoff-contending team over the next few seasons.
Looking at Atkins history of drafting since taking the helm prior to the 2016 season, it is safe to say he and the Blue Jays scouting department deserve a pretty big round of applause, as the club has drafted pretty well and has not had a high-draft pick leave unsigned, an issue that plagued Anthopoulos during his tenure as GM on numerous occasions. The club has added some pretty big names like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Nate Pearson, and a host of others who now find themselves in the big leagues, whether it be with the Blue Jays or another organization, through the MLB draft under Atkins.
But what about the players that didn’t sign after being drafted by the Blue Jays?
Each year, high school and college players get selected in the MLB Draft but choose to not sign with the organization and the Blue Jays are no stranger to this process. That’s not to say that Atkins and co. have not done their jobs properly, but rather younger players may have decided to bet on themselves through a college program to try and elevate their status in a few years for more money. Some players just don’t want to join the team they are drafted by.
In a normal season, the MLB Amateur Draft lasts 40 rounds but because of COVID-19, the 2020 and 2021 drafts were limited to five and 20 rounds respectively. With there being so many rounds, it makes sense that some of the later draft picks may choose to not sign on the dotted line when the signing bonuses become less and less compared to the higher rounds.
Since Atkins has taken over as general manager, where have the players who choose not to sign with the Blue Jays gone? Have they found the success and higher draft rankings they were hoping for? Did the gamble prove costly and they never got drafted again or played professional baseball?
Using The Baseball Cube, we are able to see which players decided to not sign with the Blue Jays and can explore further into where their careers have taken them since being drafted. I am not going to lie, there are quite a few players and this will be a bit lengthy of an article, with some players getting featured more than others.
*Note – the 2020 draft did not yield any unsigned players as it was only five rounds*