according to this article from the Toronto Star, looks like the Jays are interested in signing koskie and durazo...
Nov. 10, 2004. 01:00 AM
Jays' wish list is just that
J.P. Ricciardi will have a hard time convincing top free agents to take his money
GM has eye on Corey Koskie, but Canuck star likely headed for greener pastures
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, armed with $13.2 million of Ted Rogers' spending money, is living la vida loca this week at baseball's annual GM meetings in south Florida. He's even dreaming of signing prime free agents like Twins third baseman Corey Koskie.
The above figure represents the approved, but uncommitted, payroll should Carlos Delgado walk, as the Jays are secretly hoping. Spending it would bring Ricciardi to $53 million (all figures U.S.), a bump from a year ago. Props and much love to the rebounding loonie.
After spending three winters with his trading hands tied, Ricciardi, once Delgado bails, is ready to flash his unfamiliar wealth like a drunken sailor after months at sea.
Spending it is always easy, but getting the right players ... aye, there's the rub.
So what if it seems more like Bill Gates tip money than compete-with-the-Yankees cash flow. It's easily the most folding currency Ricciardi's had to work with entering any free-agent season.
Unfortunately, the Jays' shopping list is a lot longer than fans were led to expect when Ricciardi came on board after the 2001 season.
To reach .500 in '05, they will need a couple of big bats, a starting pitcher, a catcher and a closer. That seems like more than they needed before he arrived.
The Jays already have a free-agent wish list, headed by Anola, Man., native Koskie. But what are their chances of signing the career Twin and, if they should manage to reach agreement, what about incumbent third baseman Eric Hinske, who is guaranteed $12 million through 2007? That's tough to move.
One would like to think that in a perfect world, talented Canadian players would love playing for the majors' only remaining Canadian team, raising the sport's profile at home. But such has not been the case for the Jays under Ricciardi.
Last winter, Ricciardi made a pitch for the services of Port Hope's Paul Quantrill to compete for the closer's job. The durable former Jay rejected his home town for the Yankees.
Of course, it was Ricciardi who, two years earlier, had labelled Quantrill overpaid, on a contract negotiated by his Jays boss, Paul Godfrey. He then summarily shipped Quantrill and future Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis to the Dodgers for Aussie right-hander Luke Prokopec and token Canadian reliever Chad Ricketts. The choice had been Prokopec or another Canadian, Eric Gagne. But Canadian or not has never mattered to Ricciardi.
On his other bid for a Canadian free agent, two years ago, Ricciardi made a two-year offer to New Brunswick outfielder Matt Stairs to DH and play right field. Stairs declined in favour of a similar deal with the Pirates.
In the case of Koskie, or any prime player with significant options, signing with the Jays is even less appealing following a 94-loss season.
In previous wooing scenarios, the Jays were seen as a young, vibrant organization on the rise. Now, with a manager on a one-year deal and a general manager constantly citing payroll as an excuse for a three-year plan to compete gone awry, the Jays would have trouble convincing anyone who wants to win that this is the place for him.
As for Hinske, the sophomore jinx hit him hard. Maybe that's why most teams don't sign players to long-term deals after their rookie season. Of course, it was Ricciardi's sophomore season too. Is there a GM jinx?
The Reds, who showed some early interest in Hinske, had a look but are now trying to convert slugging outfielder Austin Kearns into a third baseman. If Delgado leaves, Hinske could move to first base, but that's a position from which you want more offence.
Look for Koskie to listen to the Jays but go elsewhere. Athletics GM Billy Beane may then be able to help his old buddy out by shipping thick-legged Erubiel Durazo to T.O. Ricciardi has always been a big Durazo fan.