The Blue Jays opened their purse strings in a big way on Monday, agreeing to terms with Russell Martin on a five-year, $82 million free agent contract.
Martin was born just outside Toronto and grew up in Montreal, which might have served as a factor in the club’s aggressive approach to signing him. You know, marketing and all that. Here’s an interesting note from Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star …
Considered among the top free agents in this year’s class, Martin will become the 21st Canadian to play for the Jays. But he is easily the most high profile and is set to lead the most Canadian Jays’ team in franchise history.
Never before has the club boasted more than one Canadian position player in the starting lineup, and next year they could have three in Martin, Langley, B.C.-native Brett Lawrie and Mississauga’s Dalton Pompey.
Kennedy says the Blue Jays have been trying to stir country-wide interest in the club “more than ever in recent years” with a Winter Tour through the Canadian provinces, more of an emphasis on the maple leaf in hat and uniform logos, and by celebrating Canada Day with a matinee game at Rogers Centre. They’ve also begun playing preseason games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, and those have been a tremendous success.