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Are the Blue Jays running out of spending money? They won't say

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The Blue Jays have been looking at big-time starting pitchers on the trade market and are now missing three key offensive pieces from their lineup. But rival GMs say they have the impression Toronto has little or no money to spend this deadline.

If so, that may preclude significant upgrades this month since the better players traded at this time almost invariably have decent-sized salaries (for obvious reasons, non-competing teams generally don't trade low-paid, productive players).

This possible new budget issue would be something of a change since the Jays made a $14 million offer to then-free agent Ervin Santana late in spring (though at that time veteran players offered to defer part of their salary to supplement the offer to Santana).

The Blue Jays are still clearly in the thick of the AL East race, as they stand four games behind the first-place Orioles. Toronto led for much of the first half before dropping back a bit.

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos declined comment on the financial situation, as is his policy. He has consistently praised ownership in the past for allowing them to spend to win, and Toronto did make two big plays two winters ago, adding stars Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes and other veterans for a stash of prospects. But the Jays haven't been an especially big spender since, as their biggest move this winter was adding catcher Dioner Navarro for $8 million over two years. Toronto currently stands 10th with a $132 million payroll, though a significant portion of that payroll is currently on the disabled list.

Toronto has been active in discussions in the trade market, though maybe a little less so in recent days. The Blue Jays were said to have backed off in talks for Jeff Samardzija (though that may have had more to do with preferring a rental pitcher to a pitcher who'd require them to surrender big-time prospects to acquire). They were tied earlier to Padres third baseman Chase Headley, but maybe a little less so now.

If their funds are low, the keys for Toronto may be the recoveries of three positional players. There's been no timetable set for Edwin Encarnacion (quad), while Adam Lind (foot) and Brett Lawrie (finger) are said to be at least two weeks away, meaning none of them are necessarily expected back before the July 31 trade deadline.

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