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How It All Shakes Out

We are now a little more than a month into the free-agent signing period, and a little more than a week into the full-on Mark Teixeira Watch. Already, we have seen the Yankees exert their financial might in both the pitching and the initials-as-first-name markets (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett). We have seen the New York Mets do the same thing with closers (Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez, J.J. Putz).

But there is a long way to go and a lot of highly desirable players still out there. Here is one man's educated guess as to where the top targets will wind up when it's all said and done:

*Teixeira: Red Sox. They have the most incentive (the Yankees' arms build-up), the most available money (the Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Coco Crisp and Curt Schilling contracts coming off the books) and a history of doing whatever it takes to get a player they desperately want (Daisuke Matsuzaka comes to mind).

*Manny Ramirez: Yankees. In the end, the Steinbrenner brothers won't be able to pass up the chance to stick it to the Red Sox by signing Manny, especially if Teixeira ends up in Boston.

*Adam Dunn: Nationals. Maybe he's half the player Teixeira is, but at half the price he can still give the Nats what they need above all else -- a power bat.

*Derek Lowe: Cubs. He would slot nicely into the payroll space they were prepared to carve out for Jake Peavy, and he wouldn't cost them any players (besides a draft pick) in return.

*Jake Peavy: Braves. If the Braves land Rafael Furcal, they say they are prepared to move Kelly Johnson to the outfield and use a Furcal-Yunel Escobar combo in the middle infield. But I suspect that's posturing, and eventually they will send Escobar to San Diego as the centerpiece of a Peavy trade.

Feel free to take your own stab, and maybe we'll revisit this in a few weeks to see how we all scored.

By Dave Sheinin  |  December 17, 2008; 8:53 AM ET
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Next: One Day Later, Furcal Chooses the Dodgers


Your list omitted the two Orlandos. Hudson to the Nats, Cabrera to the Dodgers.

Were the Nats to sign Hudson and Dunn, I think the Nats could even play for Peavy if other moves (Dunn, O-Dog) made them credible. On Dave Furcal post, I noted that MLBTR said the Peavy talks with Atlanta broke off over the last couple of components. Escobar & Gorkys Hernandez were agreed upon, but the SP and the prospect were not. SD wanted Tyler Flowers, now gone in the Vazquez deal, and Charlie Morton instead of JoJo Reyes.

I speculated that building a deal around Milledge and Lannan and Lannan would offer more in terms of SP and OF than Atlanta. We cannot match the SS, but could offer a dirt cheap major league ready glove in A-Gon. With the right prospect, perhaps there would be enough.

All of this is completely contingent on a high end FA position player signing or two. Budget wise, it'd be about $30 -35 million among Peavy, Dunn, and Hudson, which would require an overall payroll in the $75 - $85 million range, I think. Should be doable.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 17, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I believe Peavy has a broad no-trade clause and the Nats are not one of the teams. I can't see any reason for him to allow a trade to the Nats.

The only real chance for the Nats to get Teixeira is if the Nats go to something like $220M/10years and Boras convinces him to take the money. That said, Boras' clients have often taken the money in the past. The Nats do need to do something or the stadium will be under 20K almost every game.

Posted by: mikeladd123 | December 17, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

the nats have never averaged under 20k (or even close to it), what makes you think they will start now?

Posted by: weckstein | December 17, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

MikeLadd - I completely agree with you that there is no reason now to make Peavy willing to waive his no trade. What I did not say explicitly is that I believe that he might be willing to waive his no trade if the Nats signed Dunn and Hudson (or Teixeira) and the Nats were willing to give him a little extra over his current contract.

Peavy is making $8 million in '09 per Cots, then is guaranteed $52 million over the next 3 years, with an option for $22m the 4th year ($18m over his guaranteed buyout). If you view him as worth $16m AAV for 4 years in the current market, I could see a team (perhaps not the Lerners) kicking in $4 m to get him to waive a no trade. That has been done before in other trades. A no trade simply gives him extra leverage to block unless he is accommodated.

If he looked around, saw a few talented young OFs here or coing up, an above average infield, a good young catcher, and a few pitchers coming throughthe system, he might not be as down on coming here as he is now.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 17, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

maybe under 20K was harsh and then maybe not. I am referring to bodies in the stands and not tickets sold. I have made about 20 games each of their four years. In year 3 at RFK, there were many nights of an announced attendance around 25K-30K when no more than 15K were actually in the stands. The attendance they give is always paid and not based on the turn-styles. My best guess is that season tickets sales are substantially down although I have no facts to back that up except for our group that had 8 tickets last season and will probably be down to 6 this year. I know several other groups that disbanded or downsized. I cannot imagine anyone jumping in to fill those seats until the Nats have provided a reason to attend. I love baseball and go as much to see the Nats as much as the other team and the environment. But many potential fans are waiting for a reason to attend. Willingham & Olsen will not cause any additional seats to fill. Teixeira would. So would Dunn but I'm not sure how much he will help the overall lineup. The Nats infielders needs a good defensive 1B and the outfield can scarcely afford another bad defensive LF - remember the HR that bounced off Pena's glove.

The Nats have a lot of work to do. And their farm system is not as good as those in the rose-colored glasses make it out to be. Is there a quality hitter out there? Is there a legitimate #1 or #2 starter out there? On both counts I think not. Many people I have talked to who follow the minor leagues agree.

Posted by: mikeladd123 | December 18, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

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