PHILADELPHIA -- The Blue Jays have been linked to Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija on a seemingly weekly basis, but Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos says the club is not engaged in any active trade talks.
Toronto was rumored to be interested in Chicago's ace during the offseason, but the asking price was too high. According to multiple reports, the Cubs wanted top pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman in return, and the Blue Jays said no.
Another report surfaced Tuesday morning from the CBS affiliate in Chicago, which suggested the Blue Jays had continued to pursue Samardzija. Toronto has had scouts at Cubs games this season, but when Anthopoulos was asked about it later in the day he did his best to put the rumors to rest.
"I guess I can say this: I have not had any conversations with anybody about active trade talks," Anthopoulos told reporters from Citizens Bank Park. "If that ends up shooting down reports ... no, I have not engaged in dialogues, exchange of names, nothing.
"It's so rare that teams engage in trade conversations so early. You might get started in June, unless someone is out of options or DFA'd. I can't talk specifically about other players on other teams, but generally speaking I doubt anyone's really engaged in trade talks."
Samardzija has gotten off to a hot start with the Cubs this season, with a 1.62 ERA in seven outings. He is under club control until the end of the 2015 campaign, but reports out of Chicago say the two sides have failed to find any common ground on a contract extension.
That could pave the way for a trade at some point prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline. If Samardzija does end up being put on the block, the Blue Jays would undoubtedly express some interest considering they could still use an upgrade to their starting rotation.
The problem, of course, will be the asking price. Toronto dealt away a large number of prospects last offseason in trades with the Marlins and the Mets. There are still some valuable commodities left in the system, but that doesn't mean the organization is going to mortgage the future for a short-term fix.
"I think we proved that over the winter," Anthopoulos said. "There were many opportunities to move ... I think anybody that was out there for trade, we had the assets to get those players. We just elected not do it because we just thought it was going to hurt the long term too significantly."
Blue Jays expect Morrow to avoid surgery
PHILADELPHIA -- The Blue Jays do not expect Brandon Morrow to require surgery, and he could return near the All-Star break.
Morrow tore a tendon sheath in his right index finger on Friday night in Pittsburgh. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list and is wearing a large splint on his hand.
If surgery had been required, Morrow's season would have come to an end, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he did not think that would be necessary, and he was still planning on having his hard-throwing starter return this year.
"From what I was told that wasn't going to be needed," Anthopoulos said. "If something changes down the road, but from what I was told at the time, surgery was not required. ... I think when [the doctors] talked to us, they figured and guys told us, around the All-Star break is when we can expect him back."
Even when Morrow was healthy earlier this season, he was struggling to settle into any type of groove on the mound. He posted a 5.93 ERA and managed to pitch more than five innings in just one of his six starts. There were problems with his fastball command, and a lot of deep counts affected his ability to pitch deep into games.
Morrow was initially considered a wild card on this year's staff, with a belief he could establish himself as the frontline starter. That has yet to happen -- with the exception of a solid run in 2012 -- but Anthopoulos indicated a belief that when Morrow eventually returns, he will provide a major boost to the staff.
"We expect him to come back; we expect him to recover," Anthopoulos said. "He wasn't necessarily rolling, but I thought he looked great against the Indians that game [on April 20]. But Brandon has the stuff to get on a streak at any time, and even in that last game, I followed it obviously, it didn't seem like his slider was there and command, but I think Brandon at any point can get hot, and when he comes back he'll be a big add for us."
Lawrie's main position likely to stay third base
PHILADELPHIA -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has all but completely ruled out Brett Lawrie making a full-time transition to second base.
Lawrie, who is day to day with a tight right hamstring, had been playing second base during Interleague Play. The decision was made by manager John Gibbons so Toronto could find a way to get Juan Francisco's bat into the lineup at third.
There was a line of thinking from outside the organization that the Blue Jays may consider making the move permanent. Anthopoulos did not seem to fond of that idea, and while Toronto's GM said he would defer to Gibbons on a lineup decision, it does not appear to be something the organization is particularly fond of.
"He's a third baseman," Anthopoulos said. "We did talk, just the fact of Interleague. Francisco's done well for us in a short period, and it's just like Gibby talked about, wanted to keep his bat in the lineup. He's the one who brought it up to me, and I said,'Hey, it made sense, want to keep his bat in the lineup.' "
Francisco was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo when designated hitter Adam Lind was placed on the 15-day disabled list in April. Lind is expected to play nine innings in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday and will most likely make his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Thursday.
That would seem to leave Francisco without a job, and he cannot be sent to the Minor Leagues without clearing waivers because he is out of options on his contract. Francisco entered play on Tuesday night hitting .280 with three homers and seven RBIs, which is a lot more than the Blue Jays can expect to get out of Chris Getz or Steve Tolleson at second base, but the organization is putting an emphasis on defense.
The best defensive alignment would see Lawrie return to his everyday role at third while Getz handles duties up the middle. As for Francisco, he will probably head to the bench because the Blue Jays do not want to risk putting him through waivers.
"We'd like to keep Juan," Anthopoulos said. "He's playing well, and ideally you want to be able to hang on to him. I know Gibby is fond of him, and rightfully so. He's played well."
• Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen will make another rehab appearance for Double-A New Hampshire on Wednesday. Anthopoulos said the tentative plan was to have Janssen pitch on back-to-back days this weekend before possibly being activated from the 15-day disabled list at the beginning of next week. Janssen has yet to pitch in the big leagues this year because of a strained oblique muscle.
• Right-hander Neil Wagner is expected to miss a week because of a strained forearm. Wagner was pitching for Triple-A Buffalo when he sustained the injury. Anthopoulos said Wagner probably could have returned after receiving three or four days off, but Buffalo asked permission to put him on the seven-day DL because it was short on available arms.