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Gaston unsure of future beyond 2010

Gaston unsure of future beyond 2010

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NEW YORK -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston wants nothing more than to see his club return to the postseason. Given the current state of the organization and the strength of the American League East, Gaston also realizes that might not be an entirely realistic goal next season.

As it turns out, Gaston's contract expires after the 2010 campaign. Beyond that, he is sure of only one thing -- that he wants to leave the Blue Jays "in good shape." Gaston wants to remain with Toronto in some capacity after next year, but he is not certain that will be as the team's manager.

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," Gaston said. "Whatever it takes for me to do to get us back to where we were, whether I'm managing this team or not, I'm all for it. It doesn't matter if I'm managing here or not -- I probably won't be.

"I probably want to do something else, as far as going and enjoying my grandkids and my time. I'll be 66, man. I don't think I'm going to be around here until I'm 70 like some of thee guys."

Gaston, who managed the Blue Jays from 1989-97 and led the club to back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and '93, rejoined Toronto last June after an 11-year absence from the game. Since taking over for former manager John Gibbons, Gaston has guided the Blue Jays to a 105-95 record, entering Wednesday.

In 2008, Gaston led Toronto to a 51-37 mark down the stretch, earning a two-year contract extension at the end of the season. He said he is not sure how he'll respond if the Blue Jays offer him another extension after next year.

"I'm not even looking past 2010," Gaston said. "We'll see what happens at the end of next year. If they offer me [a contract] or they don't offer me, either way, it's OK. I'll make my decision, if I want to come back or if they want me back, or I say, 'No, I want to do something else.' A good job around is being an advisor, too. I could play a little more golf that way."

Gaston added that he still believes Toronto has a chance at fielding a competitive team next season.

If the Blue Jays decide against trading ace Roy Halladay during the coming offseason, he would lead a talented young pitching staff that could also see the returns of injured starters Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch. Gaston also pointed to the $60 million the club saved by awarding the White Sox a waiver claim on right fielder Alex Rios on Monday.

Gaston also noted that the Blue Jays might have even more payroll coming off the books in 2010, when the contracts of Halladay, first baseman Lyle Overbay, closer Scott Downs and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion are due to expire. After next season, Toronto will also be rid of the contract of reliever B.J. Ryan, who was released in July but is still owed roughly $15 million.

"I really think it's going to get better -- I really do," Gaston said. "Even if you might have to suck it up a little bit in 2010, the next year, you get some relief from the other money that's going to leave here."

Whether Gaston will remain at the helm when that time comes remains an open question.

"If they asked me to come back another year, I probably would," Gaston said. "But past that, I'm not sure. I'll make up my mind next year if they ask me."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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