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Jays GM says talks continue to improve team, but is there extra payroll available?

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speaks to the media during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Anthopoulos says he is looking to add to the Blue Jays by trade but danced around the issue of whether he can add payroll in the process. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

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Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speaks to the media during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Anthopoulos says he is looking to add to the Blue Jays by trade but danced around the issue of whether he can add payroll in the process. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO - Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos says he is looking to add to the Blue Jays by trade but danced around the issue of whether he can add payroll in the process.

Can you take on additional salary, he was asked?

"We can add players," Anthopoulos, who doubles as senior vice-president of baseball operations, said prior to Sunday's game against Texas. "We have the ability to have dialogue at any time. I don't see any reason why we won't be able to add players. And obviously players make money. No one plays for free."

He declined to get into specifics when asked if it was dollar in, dollar out.

"Those are things we keep in house," he said.

Toronto's current payroll is reportedly around US$137 million.

The issue of whether the Jays had hit the salary ceiling has been raised since the pre-season when free agent pitcher Elvis Santana chose Atlanta over Toronto amidst reports that several Jays players had offered to restructure their contracts to find the funds to sign Santana.

"I think we have enough resources to do what we need to do," Anthopoulos said. "I think there's ways we can be creative. I don't have any doubt that we have the ability to add players. How that gets done, obviously we can always be creative.

"We have a very strong payroll, we're thrilled with it. Ownership has been outstanding with us from that standpoint."

The GM said while there were no imminent trades, he was involved in talks in the "conceptual stage."

Anthopoulos said offence was one area that needed improvement. Toronto (50-48 going into Sunday's game) had lost 18 of their last 27 games with many bats having gone quiet.

"Clearly offensively we haven't played as well as we can," he said.

Anthopoulos, speaking to reporters in the Toronto dugout, was optimistic that a quick return to health to the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie will boost the team.

"Our (No.) 4, 5 and 6-hole hitters are out. So getting those guys back is huge, no matter what," Anthopoulos said. "But we're going to look to add by trade as well. Hopefully both."

The latest report is Lind (broken foot) and Encarnacion (quad strain) are making good progress and could be in rehab games by next weekend. Lawrie has tried throwing with getting his grip strength back next on the to-do list. The third baseman could swing a bat Monday.

The GM acknowledged that usually teams that acquire big-league talent at this stage of the season are giving up futures to get it.

"It's rare that you see trades where both teams are going to improve their big league club."

Asked if he was averse to parting with top prospects, Anthopoulos said it all depends on what you get back.

"You're always reluctant, but in the right context you certainly would do it."

The GM said he believed teams may wait longer this season to make deals, because of the current parity and the fact that the extra wild card offers another road into the post-season.

Money may also factor in any possible deal.

"There's plenty of deals where money gets exchanged," he said.

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