downs-scott100726

The competition for Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs reportedly is heating up, with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox at the forefront. ((Dave Chidley/Canadian Press))

It appears Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is trying to hit a home run with his biggest trade chip leading up to Saturday's non-waiver deadline at 4 p.m ET.

The rookie GM has asked the New York Yankees for their top prospect, catcher Jesus Montero, in exchange for left-handed relief pitcher Scott Downs, according to SI.com.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that Anthopoulos requested struggling Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain in return for the 34-year-old Downs.

"You can ask for anything," a National League talent evaluator told the newspaper. "That's doesn't mean you are going to get it. Let's see where it goes Saturday."

Still competition for Downs

The Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly sought Chamberlain in a deal for Dan Haren, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

Chamberlain, who is currently in the Yankees' bullpen but also started last season, sports a 5.95 earned-run average. He is also averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.6 walks for every nine innings.

More importantly, he is under team control through the 2013 campaign and arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season.

The Post also reported that the Blue Jays requested highly regarded infield prospects Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias in a potential deal with the American League East-rival Boston Red Sox.

The competition for Downs is said to be heating up. He was spectacular in Tuesday night's 8-2 rout of visiting Baltimore, striking out two over 1 1/3 innings to lower his season ERA to 2.34.

Downs also earned the win in Sunday's first game of a doubleheader at Detroit, fanning Scott Sizemore and Jeff Larish with the bases loaded on six pitches to end the eighth inning with a 5-3 victory.

There are at least two reasons Anthopoulos wants a lot for his pitcher. The first is Downs's Type A free-agent status, meaning he could be worth two draft picks if he turns down an offer of salary arbitration to sign elsewhere.

The GM also may not want any part of trading with a divisional opponent, hoping outrageous demands would scare off the Yankees and Red Sox.

Jays 'stoking fires'

One baseball executive told ESPN earlier this week he expects Toronto to continue "stoking fires" and wait until Friday or Saturday to move Downs.

Over the weekend, FOXSports.com also linked the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies in Downs talks.

He is believed to be the top left-handed arm available in an underwhelming group of southpaws, and one of the best overall relief pitchers on the market.

Downs also has an affordable $4.4-million US contract.

Other Blue Jays who could be in play prior to Saturday's trade deadline include relievers Kevin Gregg and Jason Frasor, infielder-outfielder Jose Bautista, catcher John Buck, first baseman Lyle Overbay and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion.