Koskie no longer fits

The Minnesota Twins offered Corey Koskie a cut in pay, then arbitration, forcing the free agent to...

The Minnesota Twins offered Corey Koskie a cut in pay, then arbitration, forcing the free agent to consider moving. (File Photo)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

There was always something about Corey Koskie and the Minnesota Twins -- like your favourite T-shirt and jeans, they just seemed like the perfect fit.

The small-town Manitoba kid who beat the odds to play Major League Baseball, playing for a small-market, blue-collar team that's overcome the odds to field a World Series contender. Both prime examples of where hard work can take you.

Well, we're somewhat sorry to report this midwestern marriage is about to be torn apart by free agency.

After 11 years with the organization, six years of manning the hot corner for the Twins, Koskie has come to grips with the idea of leaving the only team he's ever known.

"It's not looking good for me to be a Minnesota Twin," Koskie, 31, told The Sun via cellphone yesterday. "It just wasn't working."

The "it" Koskie refers to were last-minute negotiations that went right to Tuesday's 11 p.m. deadline for teams to re-sign their free agents, or at least offer them salary arbitration.

The Twins did offer Koskie arbitration, but it's likely they're just trying to cut their losses. Any team that signs Koskie now will owe Minnesota a first-round draft pick as compensation.

If they hadn't offered arbitration, the Twins would get nothing.

Koskie has until Dec. 19 to accept or reject the arbitration offer.

KEEP AVENUE OPEN

"I wish we could have worked something out with Corey," Twins GM Terry Ryan told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "We did offer him arbitration to keep the avenue open."

But Koskie clearly didn't want it to come to this.

While reports indicate he and his agent, Pat Rooney, have an offer of $16 million over three years from another team, they were willing to settle for less to stay in Minnesota.

Koskie is in the process of building a new home there and it's no secret he loves the Twin Cities.

But the best the Twins offered was a two-year deal worth $8 million, averaging out to less than the $4.5 million he earned last season.

"We were trying everything, and they're just not close," Koskie said. "If I'd played 10 years already, and my career was winding down, OK, I could take that. But I've still got some years."

Now, Koskie has never been one to hold out for the most money he could get.

BIT OF AN INSULT

But when most of your co-workers are getting raises, it's a bit of an insult to be offered a pay cut.

Let's rephrase that, because $4 million per should never be considered an insult.

An offer of $5 million-plus, though, from another team indicates somebody out there thinks you're doing a pretty good job.

And the Anola product, a graduate of Oakbank's Springfield Collegiate in 1991, did have a solid year, leading the Twins with 25 homers and knocking in 71 runs, both the second-best totals of his career.

Yes, his batting average (.251) was the lowest of his career, but he's still one of the best fielding third basemen in the American League -- his .963 percentage ranked sixth.

And he's helped the Twins win the AL Central three years running.

So, where will Koskie end up?

Reports in Minneapolis suggest Detroit, Seattle and Toronto have expressed interest.

Seattle would be a good fit in that Koskie's wife, Shannon, has family in Washington.

How about Toronto -- Manitoba's only major leaguer, playing for Canada's only team?

Now that would be a nice fit.

No matter where he goes, it'll be sad to see Koskie leaving Minnesota.

Too bad the Twins didn't see it that way.


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