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Anthopoulos on the clock as Trade Deadline nears

With Toronto needing infield and pitching upgrades, GM has decisions to make

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NEW YORK -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has some very difficult decisions to make over the next few days as he attempts to prioritize his club's needs in advance of Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Toronto could use upgrades in the starting rotation, bullpen and the everyday lineup, but it's unrealistic to expect Anthopoulos to plug each of those holes. The next few days will be about deciding what the Blue Jays need the most and then finding the right fit for the right price.

That could prove to be a daunting task for Anthopoulos -- especially considering it's believed he doesn't have a lot of money at his disposal and that he possesses a limited number of prospects at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues to trade.

"I think we have enough resources to do what we want to do," Anthopoulos said recently. "There are ways we can be creative. I don't have any doubt about our ability to add players. ... Ownership has been outstanding. If the baseball trade lines up for us, I don't see any reason why we can't add players at the Trade Deadline."

The Blue Jays are expected to get injured players Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie back from the disabled list within the next couple of weeks. That alone will provide a major upgrade to the lineup, but this is still a team that has struggled against left-handed pitching for most of the year.

There's a noticeable hole at either second or third base. Lawrie is capable of handling either position upon his return, but there's some legitimate doubt about how long Munenori Kawasaki can maintain his current level of production while playing almost every day.

A seemingly perfect fit in Chase Headley is already off the board, after the Yankees acquired the third baseman via a trade with the Padres last Tuesday. Toronto also has been linked to D-backs infielder/outfielder Martin Prado, who would be a nice addition to the lineup. The problem is that Prado is earning $11 million this season, and he has two more years at the same annual rate owed to him.

Another report from CBSSports.com earlier this week suggested Rangers right fielder Alex Rios could be the Blue Jays' target. That would require Jose Bautista transitioning to third base to open up a spot in the outfield, which is possible, but seemingly unlikely. There's also the added problem of Rios' $12.5 million salary this season.

Teams are typically prepared to include money in deals at the Deadline, but that means better prospects will be going the other way. For a Toronto organization that certainly won't part with emerging pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, that leaves left-hander Daniel Norris and outfielder Dalton Pompey as the main trade chips.

Anthopoulos, at least publicly, never gets into specifics about players with the media, but he does insist there's no such thing as an untouchable within the organization.

"It all depends what you're going to get back," Anthopoulos said when asked about his willingness to deal prospects. "You're always reluctant, but in the right context, you certainly would do it. It all depends upon what you're going to get back versus what you're going to give up. The more talent you give up, the more years of control and the more talent you want back."

The Blue Jays also could go in another direction entirely and instead target help for the rotation or bullpen. Toronto isn't about to pull off a deal for either David Price or Jon Lester, but a middle-of-the-rotation arm could come in and provide more depth.

The same thing could be said about the bullpen. The Blue Jays believe they have upgraded the relief corps by adding Sanchez to the active roster, but another reliable right-hander could be useful if they don't think Steve Delabar and Sergio Santos will figure things out in the Minor Leagues.

There are so many options and not much clarity when it comes to Toronto's intentions. It's clear the club wants to be buyers, but whether it can afford to be is a question that won't be answered until Anthopoulos comes through with either a trade or an explanation about why the club has remained quiet.

"At this point, the focus is trying to make the team better," Anthopoulos said. "If it's short term, long term, we'll do it. In terms of the player control, we'd clearly be willing to give up more if we were able to control someone beyond this year."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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