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Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos talks on his cell phone during baseball spring training in Dunedin, FL, on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos talks on his cell phone during baseball spring training in Dunedin, FL, on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011.

(Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Jeff Blair

Blue Jays boss Anthopoulos prepares to cast his net Add to ...

Trade a prospect for a pitcher?

Alex Anthopoulos wants to make clear he is not averse to doing that – and that has nothing to do with the gentle poke he was given by Jose Bautista at the All-Star Game’s media day.

He was willing to trade a prospect for a starter last winter, when the Toronto Blue Jays sniffed around Michael Pineda before the Seattle Mariners dealt him to the New York Yankees and Gio Gonzalez, who made the National League all-star team after his trade from the Oakland Athletics to the Washington Nationals.

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“There were no prospect discussions with other teams that we said a flat-out ‘no’ to,” the Blue Jays general manager said Tuesday. “It was the combinations, maybe of prospects or prospects and players off our major-league roster. All the deals we had in the off-season would have required a big-league guy being added – a core piece. It was never a pure prospect deal.”

That’s as much as you’re ever going to get out of Anthopoulos about trades. It’s other people who will tell you that the asking price for Pineda (now out for the year with an injury) was Brett Lawrie, to begin with, and that the A’s wanted a pair of top minor-league prospects – including Noah Syndergaard, a pitcher whom special adviser Pat Hentgen says reminds him of Roy Halladay – plus a major-leaguer for Gonzalez.

Monday wasn’t a “l’équipe, c’est moi” moment for Bautista. Nor was it a “whither me” moment or a suggestion time’s a-wasting, even though in reality it is for Bautista.

But days after pitcher Ricky Romero made clear getting help after the break was an open topic of conversation in the clubhouse, Bautista used the bully pulpit of the All-Star Game to make a subtle link between the duration of his contract and how it was a matter of common sense for the club to make a run at things.

Bautista said he didn’t want to put pressure on Anthopoulos or ownership, but … well. You know.

Despite starters Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison being out for the year with elbow injuries and Brandon Morrow (oblique) gradually working back and now left-handed reliever Luis Perez facing the possibility of season-ending surgery, the Jays are within striking distance of the second wild-card spot.

True, just about every other team is as well and, true, the second wild-card spot just means a one-game playoff. But Bautista and the rest of the teams hitters believe they have what it takes to mount an assault. If …

“I’m not saying that’s exactly the only thing we need to become winners, we can get one [pitcher] and maybe win, we can have guys step up, there are some different things that can happen,” Bautista said. “We’ve had guys from the minors and guys from the bullpen trying to fill in the rotation. And when you have that many people out of their role, you’re not going to get the consistency you need to compete especially in a division like ours.”

Bautista didn’t seem perplexed at the thought that a prospect or two might have to be dispatched to address the issue.

Anthopoulos made clear he took no offence. “I have pretty good lines of communication with the players. It’s not as if Jose singled out a position. That would have meant he was calling out a particular player. As I’ve said, this roster isn’t built to tear down; it’s built to add players. That might not have been the case in, say, 2010 or 2011. But it is, now.”

Asked if there was one prospect he would consider untouchable, Anthopoulos responded with a quick “no.” But he’s still at the possibility stage, as opposed to being able to promise anything. Him, and about 20 of his peers.

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