Friday, November 19, 2004

Hot Corner 

The PI brings out the news that Corey Koskie is expecting an offer from the Mariners soon. Groans are sure to emit from the Seattle area as fans and bloggers envision a 4 year, $20 million contract going to a 31-year-old third baseman who only played 118 games last year.

But how much will Koskie really cost, and would he be worth it?

Koskie was pursued by the Washington Canadians before they settled on Vinny Castilla in a 2-year, $6 million contract. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, "The Twins are expected to increase their $7 million, two-year offer to free agent Corey Koskie to $7.5 million, and that might be enough for the third baseman to re-sign with Minnesota, depending on whether he receives a $5 million-a-season, multi-year deal elsewhere."

So, according to this rumor, unless he gets $5 million per, he'll probably stay with the Twins.

Would the M's offer Corey Koskie, coming off an injury-filled season and a big drop in batting average, a 5-million per year contract. It doesn't seem likely, given that the $3-4 million range that they offered Raul Ibanez and Scott Spiezio.

And you have to think that the Mariners are at least going to talk to Beltre and Glaus before they just up and sign Koskie. To me, this sounds like the agent is trying to use the Mariners to pressure the Twins into upping their bid, and that Koskie would like to return as a Twin.

In the meantime, the best free agent match for the Mariners, Adrian Beltre, sits untalked to in the corner of the great free agent dance. Why are the M's stand-offish? My guess is that they don't want a repeat of the Miguel Tejada dance of 2004, where they worked to establish a contract amount that they wanted with Tejada, had him at 4-year, $36 million, and then to counter a 5-year, $50M offer from the Tigers, upped it to 5-year, $50 million. But at the last minute the Orioles come in and blow their offer out of the water with a 6-year, $72 million commitment.

The psychology of the move the Orioles put on Tejada and the M's was impressive. Here the Tigers and M's were battling over whether he was a $9 million or $10 million a year player, and under duress adding 5th years. Tejada has to figure this is his market, and The M's had to have had Tejada pencilled into their 2004 lineup at $9 million. So, add a year, and bump the offer by 20% and Tejada is grateful to be on your team, and you have an MVP candidate at the shortstop position. Well done, Orioles.

2005 sees the Dodgers with an owner in Frank McCourt that is unlikely to spend huge money on Beltre, but who really wants to keep him. Let the Dodgers set the market with their initial offer, which most expect to be below market value. Wait for the other competitors to make themselves known and refine the parameters of the contract discussion. Keep talking to other 3B and shortstop free agents while talking up Justin Leone or Jose Lopez at third, while letting Boras know that you are interested in Beltre. Then burst in late with an extra year and/or up the offer by 20%. Beltre feels the extra love, the other teams feel blown out of the water, and your starting 3B in 2005 is Adrian Beltre.

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