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GM hoping to lay groundwork at Meetings

Blue Jays looking at options to bolster rotation via trade, free agency

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A smile moved across Alex Anthopoulos' face as he absorbed the question. What are the Blue Jays looking for in the starting pitching department this offseason, you ask?

"More," the Toronto general manager said. "Guys that are good."

It may be a simplistic way of looking at the situation, but that doesn't make it inaccurate. The Blue Jays set up shop at the General Managers Meetings this week at the J.W. Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes knowing their starting rotation needs an upgrade.

That presents Anthopoulos with the challenge of securing at least one, and probably two, talented arms to slot into the mix for 2014, as only R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow have guaranteed jobs heading into the spring.

It is early in the process, but Anthopoulos said that the Jays are already having dialogue on both the trade and free-agent fronts.

"We need to make the rotation better," he said. "I think that any way we can, we'll look to do that. It could be a trade where one starter is going and another is coming in. If that's one starter, two, three, four -- the likelihood of adding that many, I don't know, but we'll definitely look into it."

Anthopoulos told the Toronto Sun that he has been given the green light to spend more than the $119 million that the Jays used on payroll last season, which comes as welcome news.

The free-agent market presents some pitching options, such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir, but it's notable that Anthopoulos was able to use last year's GM Meetings as a springboard to a blockbuster trade with the Marlins. It's possible that the Jays could try to spin some of their bullpen depth into rotation help.

"Anytime you're talking about trading a player, you're doing it to make your club better," he said. "I think that goes without saying."

Toronto is also interested in possible upgrades that could displace catcher J.P. Arencibia or the second base tandem of Maicer Izturis and rookie Ryan Goins.

Anthopoulos was also a popular figure to a large contingent of Japanese media on Tuesday, given the chance of Toronto's interest in phenom right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball.

The Jays have dabbled in the Japanese market previously, having shown interest in right-hander Yu Darvish before he was acquired by the Rangers two offseasons ago, and there is speculation that Toronto might join a crowded bidding group for Tanaka that is also expected to include heavyweights like the Dodgers and Yankees.

"We never get into who we're going to be after, but I think I can say, just generally speaking, I think every team in baseball would like to have a guy like Tanaka," Anthopoulos said. "He's very talented."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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