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Increased budget could make Jays a free agent player

The SportsXchange

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has more money to work with going into the offseason.

He will need it to bolster a rotation that was beset by injuries and a lack of performance for a team that needed a three-game sweep of Minnesota to finish the season 73-89 and avoid losing 90 games.

The significant rise in available cash means Anthopoulos will be able to find some help on the free agent market.

"It's not a bottomless pit," he said Oct. 3 at his annual state of the team meeting with the media. "It doesn't mean we can have everyone we want. We're going to have to be creative and make some things fit, but it's definitely more to work with than we did last year, and that will certainly be exciting."

It goes without saying that improving the rotation will be his main priority. Brandon Morrow led the staff with 10 wins, followed by Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez with nine each.

Anthopoulos also hinted that a contract extension for John Farrell could be held off until next season when the manager will be in the final season of his three-year contract.

"It's not that it is not important," Anthopoulos said. "It does need to be addressed at some point. It's just that on a list of things to be addressed, we have time. The first thing we need to do is address free agency. That's coming fast."

Anthopoulos said he expects the coaching staff to return.

The Blue Jays finished with an attendance of 2,099,663, an increase of 15.5 percent over 2011.

"Revenues for this organization have gone up, and those revenues are going to be plowed back into the payroll," Anthopoulos said. "We talked about that last offseason. I think everything has been up across the board, and the exciting part is we get to re-allocate that into payroll.

"If there's a little more flexibility from a payroll standpoint, free agency might make more sense. If you look at the return and you can say we get to save these four players in a trade and spend the dollars on a free agent, that ultimately might make more sense.

"It will have to be a combination. If that rotation can be shored up, and it needs to be, that's really going to dictate where this team goes."

The other thing that will need to be addressed is leadership in the clubhouse.

"I really don't understand why everybody's making again, in my eyes, a big deal out of that subject," injured right fielder Jose Bautista said. "It's not something that I feel needs to be addressed in our clubhouse. I think we have plenty of leadership on the players' side, on the management side, on the ownership side and with the manager. We don't need anything extra."

Not all agree.

"I don't want to say 'lacking,'" closer Casey Janssen said. "I'd say there could be more. There could be better policing throughout the team as a unit."

Farrell said, "Leadership is ageless. That means sometimes getting into an uncomfortable position in the day-to-day function of a team. You might find growing opportunities when you stand up and stand for what is right. If that means calling out a teammate, that's where some of that leadership comes into play."

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