Domonic Brown had his suitcase ready for a trade to the Toronto Blue Jays years ago. He can finally unpack now.
The Blue Jays signed the former National League all-star outfielder to a minor-league contract with a spring training invitation on Thursday, seven years after he was rumoured to be included in the deal that sent former ace Roy Halladay from Toronto to Philadelphia in 2009.
"I actually thought I was going. They were telling me the trade was basically done," Brown said Friday while standing in front of his new locker at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. "I got the word, my bags were packed and everything.
"I definitely know that they had a lot of interest. We played them so much, you know, in spring training and the minor leagues as well. I'm just grateful and fortunate to be here."
Brown, a former top Phillies prospect who grew up in Zephyrhills, Fla. — 85 kilometres from the Blue Jays' spring training camp — elected free agency rather than accept the outright assignment to the minors that Philadelphia gave him after the season.
He played in 63 games for the Phillies last year, posting a .228 batting average with five home runs and 25 runs batted in.
The 28-year-old left-handed hitter represented Philadelphia in the all-star game in 2013, his best year in the majors. He finished that season with 27 homers and a .272 batting average.
The production hasn't been there since, however.
Brown, the Phillies' 20th-round selection in the 2006 amateur draft, opened last season on the disabled list with an Achilles tendon injury and did not play after Sept. 2 because of a concussion.
"I was banged up a lot," he said. "But I'm not making excuses."
"I got pull-happy. It's pretty simple," Brown said of his drop in production. "Playing in a ball park like Citizens Bank Park, the field is short and my swing got accustomed to that right-field porch, I think.
"In 2011-'12 the league was busting me in. I made the adjustment, hit 30 and then got a little cocky there with the right-field porch. They (pitchers) went back away and I didn't make that adjustment and that's where I am now."
Brown said it's "humbling" to go from being an all-star to being outrighted off a 40-man roster.
"I want to be consistent and get back to being an all-star every single year," he said. "That's one of my big goals."
He's expected to compete for the fourth outfield spot with Junior Lake, Ezequiel Carrera and Mississauga, Ont., native Dalton Pompey.