* With newly-signed Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) behind the plate, Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) at third and Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) in centre means every day at the Rogers Centre will be Canada Day with a record three Canucks in the lineup. ….  

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By Bob Elliott

The signing ofRussell Martinis now official since he passed the customary physical in Florida

We are uncertain when Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos, Stephen Brooks and the marketing department will announce the new colour scheme for Your 2015 Toronto Blue Jays uniforms.

Will it be white on red?

Or red on white?

Will the large Maple Leaf logo go on the front or the back?

With the signing of catcher Martin it shapes up as being Canada Day every day at the Rogers Centre with three Canadians scheduled to starting lineup for the Jays.

Martin will be behind the plate, Brett Lawrie, of Langley B.C. will be at third and Mississauga’s Dalton Pompey has the centre field job.

Anyone have a cell for Larry Walker and Matt Stairs?

Martin averaged 124 games the last four seasons (116 starts per year).

Lawrie has played under 100 games a year on average in his 3 1/2 years (never more than 125 a season) due to injuries.

And Pompey played in 17 games in September.

One is a rookie, one is injury prone and one is durable.

They’re all Canadians, all healthy and the Jays are undefeated … but it’s early.

We knocked Rogers Communications for being able to find their way past the posters of Hardy Astrom, Colton Orr, Rasmus Ristolainen and Gino Odjick to only spend 1/3 of $32,000 to add Danny Valencia to a property that they own.

Giving the NHL a 12-year, $5.232 billion (CDN) deal for TV rights can spin your head, or dial or rabbit ears.

Now, it’s time to praise Rogers.

They have approved a five-year $82 million US deal to Martin going a fifth year to outbid the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It is the second largest contract in Toronto franchise history, behind the $126-million, seven-year extension given Vernon Wells.

The last time general manager Anthopoulos approached Martin and his agent under free agent circumstances was at the 2010 winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Jays had J.P. Arencibia arriving for 2011, but they had a back-up/insurance policy role to offer Martin … 250, maybe 300 at-bats.

Martin, who was coming off a hip injury said thanks but no thanks and headed to the New York Yankees who gave him the No. 1 job and a two-year, $11.5 million contract.

Martin signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates and helped the franchise reach post-season play in 2013.

And this time … how about four years? The Cubs were at four years for $70 million.


Five years it is.

We’ve heard the complaint how the Jays gave too much money, but unless your cell bill jumps it’s not your money. Complaining about the worth of a free agent player’s earnings is wrong. Dead wrong.

The only question to ask: are the Blue Jays better with Martin or without him.

They’re much better.

He was the best free-agent catcher available.

When was the last time the Jays landed the top free agent? Not since the 2005 winter meetings when they landed the best starter (A.J. Burnett) and reliever (B.J. Ryan).

Martin was not an obvious sign what with the Jays lacking a left fielder and having to rebuild their bullpen, including a closer.

When we heard of the Jays interest in free agents Victor Martinez, Andrew Miller and Martin at the general manager’s meetings in Phoenix we thought good luck. Yet, after the Detroit Tigers signed Martinez Tiger scouts admitted they were seriously worried about a strong bid from the Jays.

Two days ago a Chicago paper carried a headline: Cubs inching closer to landing Russell Martin.

Just a matter of time before Cubs president Theo Epstein landed Martin.

Anthopoulos took over at the end of the 2009 and while he has made some bold trades, some worked, some did not, his two largest free agent expenditures were infield Maicer Izturis (three-year $9 million deal) and left fielder Melky Cabrera (two-year $16 million contract).

Now Dioner Navarro becomes the Jays DH. Navarro made his debut with the 2004 New York Yankees and the next year joined the Los Angeles Dodgers, beating out Martin for the starting job 2006. When Navarro was injured, Martin took over and kept the job under manager Grady Little. When Navarro was healthy, the Dodgers traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Now, the Jays could deal Navarro to the Cubs.

The Pirates had not reached post-season in 21 years when Martin guided young arms Martin helped the Bucs young starters (Gerrit Cole and Jeff Locke) and retreads (Francisco Liriano, Burnett). And they won the wild-card spot in October, losing to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants.

Martin has been in post-season play seven years in nine seasons with the Dodgers, Yankees and Pirates.

And now he walks into a clubhouse and a team which hasn’t reached the playoffs in 21 years.