TORONTO -- The Blue Jays once infamously selected William McGuire over Chris Sale, but the future Cy Young Award contender wasn't the only one who got away from Toronto in the 2010 MLB Draft. There also was a soon-to-be MVP Award winner.
Before star third baseman Kristopher Bryant became one of the most recognizable faces in the game, his rights belonged to the Blue Jays for a short period of time. Toronto selected Bryant out of high school in the 18th round, but the front office never offered him a contract.
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For the Blue Jays, the pick was essentially the same as buying a lottery ticket. The only reason Bryant was still available in the 18th round out of high school was because he was all but guaranteed to attend the University of San Diego, and he had shown very little willingness to turn pro right away. Toronto took him with the off chance that Bryant might change his mind, but as it turned out, the two sides never sat down to discuss a potential deal.
"I feel [the Blue Jays] had other priorities in terms of other guys they picked and trying to get those people signed, and then they work on guys who are tougher signs later on," Bryant said. "I guess they just never got to me. It was way different the second time [I was drafted in 2013], obviously. I knew where I was going to be picked, I'd performed really well.
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"Coming out of high school was different, and I was so young. I didn't need to be signing a professional baseball contract out of high school. I needed to live on my own a little bit and get some schooling. I'm so glad I did it, because I see some of the journeys that some of the guys who have signed out of high school -- and it's not super glorious and glamorous, and it's a tough road. I'm thankful my road getting here was a lot shorter, because I went to college."
The Blue Jays probably don't share those same feelings, because they missed out on a player who, at 26 years old, has already made two All-Star teams and took home the National League MVP Award in 2016. Toronto has a star third baseman of its own in Josh Donaldson, but there's no telling where this organization would be right now if it had somehow convinced Bryant to sign.
These types of stories happen all the time. It's a common occurrence for top high school talent to drop in the Draft if teams aren't confident about the player's willingness to sign. Right-hander Marcus Stroman was initially drafted by the Nationals in 2009 before joining the Blue Jays as a first-round pick in '12. First baseman Justin Smoak was taken by the A's in '05, but he opted to attend the University of South Carolina instead and was later picked by the Rangers.
Blue Jays fans can wonder about what life might have been like with Bryant, but the native of Las Vegas certainly doesn't have any regrets. He has a star role on a big-market team, a World Series ring and countless memories from college to remind him that the right choice was made.
"They're the best three years of my life," Bryant said of his time at the University of San Diego. "I've had a lot of cool things happen to me [with the Cubs]. College will always be my favorite time of my life. It's just a completely different game. You're having fun, you have other things you need to worry about in terms of schoolwork, and it helps you take your mind off baseball. Your best friends for life are there. It was the best three years of my life."