Blue Jays Lessen Corner Glut By Dumping Koskie

By Jim Callis

January 6, 2006

After trading for Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus in December—and with Shea Hillenbrand, Eric Hinske and Corey Koskie already on hand—the Blue Jays had more corner infielders than they knew what to do with. They added a little clarity to the situation on Friday, dealing Koskie to the Brewers for Double-A righthander Brian Wolfe. Toronto also kicked in $7.25 million toward the remainder of Koskie’s contract.

Koskie, 32, is coming off his worst season since he became a big league regular in 1999, in part because he was bothered by a broken right thumb that cost him two months. He hit .249/.337/.398 with 11 homers and 36 RBIs in 97 games. Before that, he usually had hit for a solid average and power while drawing a fair amount of walks. He’s still a good defender with arm strength, more than enough range and reliable hands. The Brewers are only liable for $4.25 million of the guaranteed $11.5 remaining on a three-year, $17 million contract that runs through 2007. However, he can vest his 2008 opton of $6.5 million with 600 plate appearances in either of the next two years, or a total of 1,200 plate appearances from 2005-07. Koskie is a career .277/.369/.455 hitter with 112 homers and 473 RBIs in 913 games.

Wolfe, 25, was a sixth-round pick out of a California high school in 1999. After missing most of 2004, when he had Tommy John surgery, he returned last year but was released by Minnesota in May. Signed by Milwaukee later that month, he went a combined 5-4, 3.41 in 42 relief appearances between four minor league clubs, finishing the season at Double-A Huntsville. He had a 50-25 K-BB ratio in 61 innings, while opponents batted .290 with two homers against him. Wolfe’s best pitch is his cut fastball, and he also has a 90-92 mph heater with average life. He uses both a slider and a curveball, but both are below average. He has a lifetime 41-39, 4.13 mark in 179 pro appearances (86 starts).