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Anthopoulos formulating plan for Jays

Anthopoulos formulating plan for Jays

TORONTO -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is entering a critical stage within his offseason agenda. The young, energetic orchestrator of Toronto's future is in the midst of detailing a direction for an organization in transition.

Anthopoulos has kept mum on his plans since he assumed the general-manager duties at the end of the regular season. Over the past few weeks, though, Anthopoulos has maintained that he expects to be able to shed some light on the Jays' situation before the General Managers' Meetings open in Chicago on Monday.

This week, Anthopoulos plans on sitting down with team president and CEO Paul Beeston and ownership to detail a plan for 2010 and beyond. Before he could do that, Anthopoulos felt he needed to first reorganize Toronto's scouting and player-development departments, and then settle the club's coaching staff and the future of manager Cito Gaston in light of the late-season clubhouse controversy.

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Those steps have been taken. Now, Anthopoulos can focus on direction.

"I didn't come out and say where it was on my list of priorities and time frame," Anthopoulos said after revealing a slightly different coaching staff on Friday and announcing that Gaston would retire after the 2010 season. "Getting this staff settled, getting it in place, addressing all the things that came out and were talked about and putting all that to bed was a priority for me.

"This was certainly one of the items I wanted to have done by this time frame -- prior to being able to finalize payroll and things like that, direction, whether it's spending money in free agency, sitting down with ownership and so on. This is something that was of utmost importance to me going forward."

Last season with former general manager J.P. Ricciardi, the Blue Jays operated under an estimated $80 million payroll -- roughly a $20 million decrease from the previous season. Anthopoulos, who replaced Ricciardi on Oct. 3, now has to decide whether it makes more sense to move forward with a similar payroll, or to ask ownership for an increase.

After enduring a 75-win season within the increasingly competitive American League East, the Jays could be on the verge of a slight rebuild -- eyeing a competitive window down the road -- rather than a spending spree for 2010. Toronto has free agents in catcher Rod Barajas and shortstops Marco Scutaro and John McDonald, but playing the largest part in Toronto's direction is the future of ace pitcher Roy Halladay, who is eligible for free agency next winter.

Ricciardi was very public about fielding offers for Halladay this past season. Anthopoulos plans on keeping any trade discussions about any of his players close to his vest, but know that he has already been phoning rival GMs to discuss potential swaps.

Trying to trade Halladay before he potentially walks away as a free agent is a realistic scenario for the Blue Jays. Asked for his gut feeling about Halladay's future on Saturday, Gaston once again reiterated Halladay's wish to play in the postseason. Given Toronto's current situation, making a run at the World Series seems like more of a long-term goal.

"My gut is that I think Doc wants to be on a winning team," Gaston said. "He's probably sitting there looking at A.J. [Burnett] out there pitching [for the Yankees in the World Series], knowing that that's where he'd like to be. It's not about money with Doc. It's about him being on a winning team.

"I can't speak for Doc, but my gut feeling is if he's here next year with us, then he'll probably leave after next year. Hopefully, if that's the case, then we can get something for him before he leaves."

Anthopoulos addressed the Halladay situation in an interview with the Canadian Press on Monday.

"If this team wins, then there's a good opportunity for him to stay here," Anthopoulos said. "The reality of it is we were a 75-win team last year, and obviously, that doesn't meet Roy's criteria for winning right now. Roy's goals are the same as ours, but his time line might not be the same as ours, and what I'm working through right now is how soon, in this offseason, can we turn this entire thing around, so that we can be a team that really makes a run at the playoffs."

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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