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No rest for Anthopoulos as Blue Jays look to '16

Despite contract status, general manager already mapping out offseason

TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos' contract situation dominated the conversation at his year-end news conference Monday morning, but it wasn't the only issue he discussed.

Toronto's general manager will see his contract expire on Saturday. While official plans cannot be made until that situation is resolved, Anthopoulos claimed it's business as usual at 1 Blue Jays Way.

Despite the uncertainty, Anthopoulos is laying the groundwork for his offseason plans. He's talking to agents, having meetings with his coaching staff and front office -- everything you might expect from the architect of a team that will be out to prove it wasn't a one-year wonder.

Here are some of the highlights from Monday's news conference:

• Free agent David Price could be in line for a contract that reaches seven years and more than $200 million. That's far beyond anything the Blue Jays have committed to one player, but Anthopoulos said his team intends on being in the mix.

"We have strong interest in David being back," Anthopoulos said. "I know he's very open to being back here -- where that leads, where it goes, I have no idea at this time. It's too early.

"He's earned the right to be a free agent -- we knew that when we acquired him -- but I think the fact that he got to spend time here, to see the fan support, to see what Canada was about, what Toronto was about, the organization ... I think it opened his eyes."

Video: ALCS Gm6: Marcus Stroman on playing with David Price

• Right-hander Marco Estrada is the other prominent Blue Jays free agent. In a lot of ways, Estrada was the unsung hero in 2015 as he posted a 3.28 ERA in 28 starts. His $3.9 salary is set to soar, but Anthopoulos is understandably interested in bringing him back.

"I reiterated to him that we would like to have him back," Anthopoulos said. "He would like to be back. It's a great starting point. We'll see where that goes, but I'm optimistic and I'm hopeful that he's going to be here going forward."

• The Blue Jays aren't going to trade one of their young second basemen just for the sake of making a deal. Before a shoulder injury ended his season, Devon Travis was the starter. He'll have an opportunity to assume that role again next year, with Ryan Goins as his challenger.

Video: [email protected]: Travis exits game with an injury

"It's a position of strength and a position of depth," Anthopoulos said. "As we sit here today, I think we would let those two guys compete come Spring Training. We all know that we need that depth, and the fact that Goins can play short and all over the place is certainly encouraging."

Jose Bautista will start in right, and Kevin Pillar is the assumed starter in center. That leaves Michael Saunders, Ben Revere and Dalton Pompey in the mix for left.

"Saunders obviously is someone we need to monitor his health," Anthopoulos said. "He's doing well so we'll continue to keep tabs on that. Ben had a very good two months for us ... Dalton we think has made tremendous strides this year, so we feel like it's an area of depth. Knowing it's an area of depth gives us some options this winter."

• Toronto is notoriously tight lipped about payroll and that was the case again Monday morning. The Blue Jays had a payroll in the $130 million-$140 million range for 2015; it seems unlikely to go down.

"I never want to divulge that, there's no advantage for anybody to know what we have to work with," Anthopoulos said.

• Anthopoulos wouldn't commit about whether Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna will remain in the bullpen or be transitioned to a starting role. That decision, it seems, will depend entirely on what moves the club makes this winter.

"We're not sure yet," Anthopoulos said. "We have the ability to [move them to the rotation]. I think there are scenarios that could happen and that's part of our planning.

"We've talked about do we go out and get some starters and keep them in the bullpen, to continue to make that bullpen even stronger. Long term, we do view both of them as starters. But at the same time, we're in a position where we have a chance to win. That's something we'll have to balance."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
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