Dec 9, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos talks with reporters during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays Latest Trade Rumors

With the 2104 MLB trade deadline just over 24 hours away, let’s take a look at the latest trade rumors involving the Toronto Blue Jays from around the league.

Payroll Remains an Issue

After the Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott tweeted out that the Blue Jays do not have much payroll flexibility, the rumors swirling about the Blue Jays’ interest in players became hazy.

But Elliott is not the only one who believes the payroll flexibility – or lack of – will be an issue. The Toronto Star’s Brendan Kennedy also thinks that ownership may be the biggest obstacle Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos faces, if he wants to make any deal.

With the payroll hovering around the $137-million mark, acquiring more salary appears unlikely unless a team is willing to take a contract like Ricky Romero‘s in return.

Lester or Hamels Appear Unlikely

Jul 25, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The rumors circulating around Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels have intensified yesterday, especially surrounding Lester.

While both players are highly sought after arms, the cost of Cole Hamels remains extremely high according to multiple sources like CBS Sports Jon Heyman and Justin Klugh of Philly.com.

NBC Sports reported that the Phillies wanted Dodgers top prospects Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias. Needless to say, you can definitely scratch Hamels off of the Toronto Blue Jays’ list.

Meanwhile, speculation surround Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester has heated up in the last 24 hours. Reports of the Blue Jays aggressively pursuing Lester went viral yesterday afternoon, but the list of potential suitors quickly grew afterwards. But for the Toronto Blue Jays, what does “aggressively” mean?

Did Alex Anthopoulos throw eight different trade offers at Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington? Did he wait for him to arrive at Fenway Park yesterday?

Who knows.

But as the Lester rumors continued to grow, the Toronto Blue Jays appeared to become less and less likely of landing Lester. According to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, the Blue Jays don’t have what it takes to acquire Lester.

Then, earlier this morning, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted out an interesting tidbit of information.

While these rumors are very intriguing to say the least, the real issue here for the Blue Jays – aside from salary – might be the fact that Lester has not only stated his openness to return to Boston after this season, even if he was traded, but also the fact that the asking price for Lester has been rumored to involve prospects like Oscar Taveras, Jimmy Nelson, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell and Alen Hanson. In other words, a pretty penny would be necessary to acquire Lester.

For the Blue Jays, would that deal start with prospects Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey (both are already at AA New Hampshire) or would the Red Sox expect more?

Either way, I think it is safe to cross Jon Lester off of the Blue Jays’ list as well.

What About Justin Masterson or Asdrubal Cabrera?

Jul 27, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (13) at bat against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians’ hottest trade pieces are without a doubt Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera.

Both players are set to become free agents at the end of this year, and both players have been linked to the Toronto Blue Jays. While Masterson seems like a bit of a stretch at this point, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera could be a real option for Toronto.

Cabrera is capable of playing both second base and shortstop. He can switch-hit and he is a true rental player since he is heading towards free agency after this season. Cabrera would be a nice addition to the Jays’ middle infield, and with Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor knocking on the door at shortstop, Cabrera might not cost as much as some of the other names on the market.

But with how well the tandem of Steve Tolleson and Ryan Goins have played, you have to wonder if the Blue Jays still view second base as a major area of concern.

Or the Diamondbacks’ Martin Prado?

Aside from Asdrubal Cabrera, Arizona Diamondbacks utility man Martin Prado has been linked to the Blue Jays as well in recent weeks.

Although a deal sending Prado to Toronto seems unlikely at this point, the Diamondbacks do have a couple nice pieces they could package to the Blue Jays like reliever Brad Ziegler and outfielder Gerardo Parra. If the Toronto Blue Jays do decide to make a bigger play for Prado, those are a few names you could see added to the deal.

Where should the Blue Jays concentrate on improving the team?

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Interest in Outfield Market Dwindles

May 6, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53), center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) and right fielder Jose Bautista (19) celebrate winning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Blue Jays defeated the Phillies, 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

While the Blue Jays have been linked to names like San Diego Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia, their current outfield situation isn’t all that bad with Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista, Anthony Gose and Nolan Reimold.

Having said that, the team would probably like an outfielder who has success against left-handed pitching like Denorfia, or Twins slugger Josh Willingham, but the recent acquisition of Danny Valencia might have already filled that role.

Bullpen Help Could be Costly

Philadelphia Phillies left-handed relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo remains one of the league’s hottest names, but another southpaw has joined him on that list – Boston Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller. But according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the asking price remains very high.

While hot names like Bastardo and Miller remain in high demand, the Blue Jays could shift their attention elsewhere to find a cheaper option like Houston Astro’s Tony Sipp or Chad Qualls.

Is an August Trade More Likely?

While a major blockbuster trade seems less and less likely in the next 24 hours, could the Toronto Blue Jays wait until August to make a move?

With lots of names surely to be available during the waiver trade period, Toronto could stick with what they have now and shift their attention towards an August deal – if the team is still in the thick of things in the AL East.

Enjoy the next 24 hours of trade rumors baseball fans.

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