By: Adam Morissette
Canadian Baseball Network
OTTAWA- The annual Baseball Winter Meetings wrapped up today in Nashville that included a busy week with several players changing uniforms through trade, free agency and the annual Rule V draft.
Among those changing uniforms at the big league level were a pair of Canadians and Baseball Canada alumni in 3B Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) and RHP John Axford (Port Dover, ON).
Lawrie, 25, was traded to the Chicago White Sox from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for a pair of minor league pitching prospects. The former Junior National Team star played in 149 games with the A’s in 2015 and hit .260 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI. Lawrie joined the Junior National Team program in 2005 and played in two 18U World Cups (2006, 2008) along with the Beijing Olympics (2008), IBAF World Cup (2009), the World Baseball Classic (2009), and was named to the 2013 WBC roster although he did not participate in the event due to injury.
Axford, 32, spent the 2015 season with the Colorado Rockies and pitched in 60 games out the bullpen where he successfully converted on 25 out of 31 save opportunities. He also struck out 62 batters in 55.2 innings pitched. He inked a two-year deal with the Athletics that will see him pitch in the American League for the second time in his career after pitching with the Cleveland Indians for part of the 2014 season. Axford pitched with the Junior National Team program in 2001 before representing Canada in 2003 at the America’s Qualifying Series. He was also a member of the National Team in 2013 for the World Baseball Classic.
The Rule V Draft is the final event on the agenda at the Baseball Winter Meetings, and two Canadians were among those selected as Pan Am Games gold medalist LHP Evan Rutckyj (Windsor, ON) was taken by the Atlanta Braves from the New York Yankees organization with the third overall pick during the Major League phase of the draft, while Junior National Team alum Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, ON) went to the Miami Marlins from the Tampa Bay Rays organization in the second round of the Triple-A phase. Both players are former members of the Junior National Team program.
Rutckyj will have a chance to earn a job with the Braves big league club during Spring Training.