TORONTO -- General manager Alex Anthopoulos will be a busy man over the next 36 hours as he attempts to sign the Blue Jays' remaining picks from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Toronto currently has 30 of its 55 selections under contract. Anthopoulos has until Monday night at midnight ET to sign the remaining players or the Blue Jays will lose their negotiating rights.
"You're always hopeful I guess," Anthopoulos told reporters late Sunday morning. "I'm more realistic about the process -- that you can only do so much.
"You make an offer you feel is fair, if it's good enough, great, [we] would be thrilled to have the players. If it's not good enough, for the top three rounds, we'll get the picks back the following year and we'll move on."
The most prominent unsigned player is top pick Tyler Beede. The 18-year-old right-hander was taken with the 21st overall selection, but the two sides have yet to come to terms.
Complicating matters is Beede signed a letter of intent to play at Vanderbilt University. Beede has said throughout the process that he is very keen on attending school, and at least publicly, he has not changed that stance.
A source indicated to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo early in the week that Beede and the Blue Jays were not close in contract negotiations. Beede seemed to echo those statements to his local newspaper on Friday.
"We'll see if we come to an agreement, but right now it looks like school is going to be the choice," Beede told the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram and Gazette.
Anthopoulos prides himself on keeping contract negotiations out of the public eye. The second-year GM does not look kindly upon leaks to the press and has been known to sit down with players if they break that code of conduct.
The same rules do not apply to Beede because the young hurler is not under club control. Anthopoulos said it did not bother him in the least that the 6-foot-4, 200-pound hurler talked to the press.
"He's not our player," Anthopoulos said. "We have his rights to negotiate with him -- if he was under contract then I'd have my thoughts on that.
"But I respect the player, I respect the family, they have a decision to make, it's their life, that type of thing. I wouldn't have an opinion on that from a media standpoint, because he's not our player."
Toronto will receive a compensation pick in next year's Draft if it is unable to come terms with players taken in the first three rounds.
The club currently has officially inked outfielder Jacob Anderson (35), right-hander Joseph Musgrove (46) and right-hander Jeremy Gabryszwski (78).
Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. (53) and right-hander John Stilson (108) also agreed to terms on Sunday afternoon, along with sixth-rounder Anthony Desclafani and eighth-rounder Mark Biggs.
That would leave right-hander Kevin Comer (57), left-hander Daniel Norris (74) and Beede as the four remaining players in the first three rounds that remain unsigned.
The Blue Jays were the most aggressive team in the Draft according to many experts around the game. The club targeted multiple high-ceiling players that were considered tough to sign because of contract demands or commitments to attend a university in the fall.
Despite the high number of guys still without a contract, Anthopoulos doesn't regret taking that approach. If things don't work out, he'll take his chances with next year's crop of players.
"We will never be in a position where we have to sign a player," Anthopoulos said. "The minute you start to think that way, if we said we have to, then we'd be paying these guys a lot more money.
"We drafted them to sign them, but we didn't draft them to sign them at any cost. If 2011 would be our final Draft of all time, then fine, it doesn't matter. But every Draft and every signing impacts the following year's signing. If you are reckless and irresponsible in '11, then I'll hear about it in '12."
Hill putting in extra work to turn season around
TORONTO -- Aaron Hill was held out of the Blue Jays' starting lineup on Sunday afternoon for the second consecutive day.
Hill was given the weekend off to spend some extra time working with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy in an attempt to turn around his subpar performance at the plate.
The 29-year-old might have received the weekend off to make room for utility man John McDonald, but manager John Farrell made it clear Hill remains in the team's plans moving forward this season.
"First and foremost, he's our second baseman," Farrell said. "This gives Aaron another day to work with Murph, as he has been doing.
"Maybe a little mental breather as well. But first and foremost he is our second baseman."
Hill has struggled to find a rhythm at the plate for most of the season. He is batting just .226 with five home runs and 41 RBIs in 98 games.
The seventh-year player is looking to regain his old form, and according to his manager, a lot of that has to do with improved discipline at the plate.
"Just making sure he is getting pitches he can handle, swinging at strikes," Farrell said. "He has a tendency to expand the zone up against some fastballs, we've seen that he hasn't gotten on top of that pitch that he has in the past.
"Then, still working with his lower half, whether it's a bit more of a more open stride, or open setup, to free his hips up and clear his hips. Those are the two main areas that he has continually addressed."
Toronto has a pair of club options on Hill's contract following this season. General manager Alex Anthopoulos could opt to exercise an $8-million option or a two-year $16-million option at the end of the year.
Anthopoulos said there is still plenty of time for Hill to turn his season around and impact the club's line of thinking. The second-year GM pointed to Jose Bautista's successful September in 2009 and Edwin Encarnacion's big final month in 2010 as prime examples of that.
"Aaron obviously has had a rough year, but at the same time is still fighting, still trying to get it going," Anthopoulos said.
"I haven't closed the book at all on Aaron. I know the contractual status is going to be a topic, and that's something we'll have to address during the offseason. I still believe in the player, there's no doubt he wants to perform better, hopefully he can perform better."
Prospect McGuire placed on DL as precaution
TORONTO -- Double-A New Hampshire pitching prospect Deck McGuire was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Saturday with a lower back injury.
McGuire felt some discomfort in the area during his last outing on Aug. 7. He pitched through the pain and struck out eight batters, but the Blue Jays opted to place him on the DL for precautionary reasons.
"He's fine," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "If it was the playoffs, he'd pitch, but why take the chance?
"It's more of just giving him a week off of not throwing just to let it totally subside, and then get back to pitching."
McGuire could miss a total of three to four starts, but he is expected to be back in action later this month. The 22-year-old is 2-1 with a 4.82 ERA in three starts with the Fisher Cats this season.
Anthopoulos also confirmed on Sunday afternoon that top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud would remain in Double-A through the end of this season.
d'Arnaud has been praised for his defensive work behind the plate and is also hitting .326 with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs in 97 games.
Anthopoulos believes it is important for the 22-year-old's overall development that he remain in Double-A. d'Arnaud played just 71 games for Class A Dunedin in 2010 because of a lower back injury.
"He didn't really get a full season in the Florida State League last year," Anthopoulos said. "There was even talk coming out of Spring Training, should we let him at least start in Dunedin, because he missed so much time and didn't get that many at-bats.
"He has been unbelievable in New Hampshire and just for him to get a full season there, to experience playoffs, they've got a very deep team, very good rotation there, great staff, it's a great experience for those kids."