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Sabathia Interest As Financial Brinksmanship

Almost as soon as rumors leaked out of Anaheim in the past two days about the Angels' interest in CC Sabathia, speculation emerged that the entire concept of the Angels chasing Sabathia was a simple smokescreen to get first baseman Mark Teixeira to decrease his demands.

It may seem like a drastic claim but, believe it or not, there might be something behind those conspiracy theories.

Think about it: From Day One, the Angels have said that their primary offseason objective was re-signing Teixeira. From Day One, they've been the only team to really stick their toe in the water, making clear that they would extend an offer they found fair (like $100-120 million for 5-6 years) and then stick to it. Angels owner Arte Moreno loves Teixeira, whom Anaheim picked up before the trade deadline and rode to the best regular season record in baseball.

The problem for Anaheim is that Teixeira's demands are clearly going to surpass was the Angels are willing to pay. The first baseman's agent, infamous mercenary Scott Boras, has pegged an early hallmark for Boras' next deal as a 10-year pact, likely shooting for $18-20 million per.

Well, now Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman is saying that the Yankees, likely one of the Angels' primary competitors for both Sabathia and Teixeira, are openly questioning whether the Angels are interested in Sabathia ... at all.

Yes, it's self-serving for the Yankees to be leaking rumors that one of their primary competitors for their top target isn't a serious bidder, but they have reason to believe that they're right. Not only do the Angels need Teixeira's bat a lot more than Sabathia's arm -- which they've admitted more than once -- adding Sabathia would decrease Anaheim's chance to extend ace John Lackey, another of their offseason priorities. Lackey would understandably feel threated by the addition of another top-flight ace on a $120 million contract, and that might make him much more willing to turn his back on talks of an extension.

Now, it's worth noting that Heyman himself doesn't necessarily buy the Yankees' conspiracy theory, and the L.A. Times, in the person of Bill Shaikin, is claiming that the Angels have moved on from the Teixeira waiting game.

Still, when there's smoke there's often fire. And there's plenty of smoke behind these stories of, well, smokescreens, in The Newark Star-Ledger and Believe the stories if you will, but this is one where there really are legitimate reasons to buy into some of the hype.

By Cameron Smith  |  November 26, 2008; 4:02 PM ET
Categories:  Angels , Yankees  
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