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Roy Halladay is being dangled as trade bait by the Blue Jays. ((Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) )

Fans hoping Roy Halladay remains a member of the Toronto Blue Jays might not be on pins and needles much longer.

If Halladay is to be shipped elsewhere, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told reporters Tuesday that he would like to complete a trade for the former Cy Young Award winner by July 28.

"At this point, it is probably unlikely that we will trade Doc," Ricciardi said. "No one has really stepped up yet.

"We have got to be highly motivated to move him. We haven't been highly motivated yet."

Halladay, 32, has a no-trade clause and is signed through next season, when he is slated to make $15.75 million US. 

But trade rumours have swirled since Ricciardi mentioned in a recent radio interview that he would listen to serious pitches for Halladay.

Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET on July 31 and, while Ricciardi would entertain serious offers right up to the deadline, he would prefer to get the jump on finalizing what is sure to be a complicated transaction.

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Domino Effect 

With Rod Barajas, John McDonald and Marco Scutaro eligible for free agency and Scott Downs, Lyle Overbay and Scott Rolen only signed through next season, the Toronto Blue Jays have hinted they might dismantle the present roster by the July 31 trade deadline, but trading Roy Halladay remains a top priority.

"Everything feeds off if we do something with Doc. The first thing we're concentrating on is if we're going to trade Doc, obviously. If we are trading him, then we would be open to doing other things." — Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi 

Moreover, Halladay is scheduled to start July 29 at Seattle, and Ricciardi doesn't want to run the risk of sending him to the mound with trade winds blowing.

"In three days, not much is probably going to happen," Ricciardi said. "It is such a magnitude, the trade.

"He has got to OK the team he is going to. We have got to agree on prospects.

"That doesn't happen, traditionally, in baseball, in one hour. I think we need a little more time than that."

Arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Halladay is a sparkling 11-3 with a 2.73 earned-run average and four complete games in 18 starts this season, his 12th with Toronto.

The crafty right-hander has struck out 113 batters and walked just 17 in 132 innings pitched, and earned the start in last week's all-star game at St. Louis.

Halladay reportedly is coveted by the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies, rumoured to be the front-runners in trade talks.

According to reports, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels have shown a serious interest, too, with the Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals exploring trade options to varying degrees.

With files from The Associated Press