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Teixeira

Plenty of Nationals fans are scratching their heads, wondering how the Teixeira Sweepstakes have been changed, if at all, by last night's e-mail-to-media from the Red Sox that they had been "outbid" by rivals for Teixeira and were no longer a factor in signing him.

Let me give my views, based on speaking with sources from multiple teams last evening and this morning, plus my own interpretation based on far too many years of following free agent negotiations.

First, let me note a quote from a famous agent in his 10 Rules of Negotiation. "Rule Three: Convince the other side that you have another offer...whether you do or not."

Agents lie. Not all, but plenty. It is widely assumed among baseball executives that Scott Boras negotiates based on non-existant "offers." Does he? That's not the point. It's now seen as part of his M.O. by teams like the Red Sox (who despise him). So, when dealing with Boras, some teams think that, when negotiations get really serious, you have to call his bluff.

Last night was probably the Red Sox calling Boras bluff. Only a few hours before Henry's e-mail, a Red Sox source told me that he thought the Teixeira signing would be done, by some team, within four days and by Monday at the latest. "That's what everybody thought," said an executive with another team in the Teixeira hunt. "Then, within a few hours, the Red Sox do a complete 180-degree reversal? That sounds like a ploy."

Remember, the Red Sox are the team that, supposedly, had a plane on the runway and told Dice-K to get on board or no deal. So bargaining brinksmanship is comfortable for them. Also, the Yankees backed down Boras and A-Rod so badly __after the infamous Alex Upstages the World Series incident__ that Rodriguez came back to the Yankees to negotiate without Boras, completely showing up his own agent. Boston was watching.

Another possibility, according to one of the teams involved, is that the Angels may have come flying in with a big offer. If you are wondering, "Don't the Red Sox, Angels, Nats, Orioles and perhaps Yankees know what the other teams are doing?" the answer is, "NO! That's the whole point." The teams don't talk to eachother. The player and agent play one team off against the others. And the media is used as a means for (often fake) leaks.

"When it comes to the other teams, we're in the dark...as always," said one key executive involved with Teixeira. "We've even been known to ask writers what they think."

Ironically, baseball free agent bidding wars are the one time in sports when 1) beat reporters may actually know more information than any one team and 2) those same reporters may be completely misinformed on key issues.

As for the Nationals chances of getting Teixeira, they probably haven't changed much. They are in the hunt and are dead earnest. But the Red Sox, believe it or not, are probably still the favorite at the very moment when they say, "We're out." That's just the hall-of-mirrors that is free agency.

What's changed? The Angels, after Raul Ibanez (their Plan B if they didn't get Teixeira) signed with the Phils, have probably become much more serious about Teixeira.

It's now widely seen as a three-way race with the Red Sox, desite what they say, in the lead with the new possibility that the Angels really have made the top offer. Chances are good that Boras says he has a 10-year contract __his original goal__ but that the Red Sox don't believe him. Teams have their little games, too, not just agents. For more than a month I've heard variations on, "The deal won't be for more than eight years." Now why would multiple teams feel the same way about that issue? Common sense? A 'wink' among teams?

As I posted last night, the Nationals should be developing all their post-Teixeira options because they are probably going to need them. But they shouldn't be paralyzed by Boras' notoriously lengthy timetable. If memory serves, he wanted a 10-year contract for Carlos Beltran and, finally, settled for a seven-year deal that wasn't finished until well into January.

Washington fans should enjoy the Hot Stove League. This is the first time in the city's history that the Nats or Senators have been part of it. When the old Sdenators were in town, there was no free agency yet. (Curt Flood played for them in '71.)

But don't have a heart attack every time there is "news." Because it usually isn't really "news" at all. It's the rumor and negotiation game. That's how, for example, ESPN can report last night that Boston is "close to signing Teixeira," then have Henry state flatly that the Red Sox are "not a factor" just a couple of hours later.

When it comes to free agency, lots of people know something. A few people know quite a bit. But nobody, except the player and his agent, have all the facts in their hands. The player never speaks. And when the agent does, you can believe every (other) word.

By Thomas Boswell  |  December 19, 2008; 10:39 AM ET
 
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Comments

Thanks. This is the most credible piece I've read yet. I had been yo-yo-ing with every report but after Henry's about-face last night it seemed pretty clear the games were on.

Now i'm all Yawwwwn...ho-hum. Call me when it's over. And I repeat, he aint coming here.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 19, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for talking us down (I think). This FA frenzy is sort of fun, in a torturous way.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 19, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I've been enlightened.

Back to the medicine cabinet goes my Xanax. Boz: my new med of choice.

Posted by: joemktg1 | December 19, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

It will take brother Dominic and a miracle for Tex to sign with Washington. Boras is really good at his job and it will all show and tell soon enough. I agree, turn attention elsewhere before the well dries up.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 19, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Aw, come on, Boz, the Frank Howard-Claude Osteen trade was good for some hot stove fun in old DC.

Posted by: nats24 | December 19, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't hink the well will "dry up," at least not until Tex signs somewhere (here: doubtful). Once THAT happens, I think the clock starts ticking on Dunn etc.
_________________________________________________________
It will take brother Dominic and a miracle for Tex to sign with Washington. Boras is really good at his job and it will all show and tell soon enough. I agree, turn attention elsewhere before the well dries up.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 19, 2008 12:13 PM

Posted by: TimDz | December 19, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Teixeira's stats at Fenway:
.193 BA, .275 SA, 62 ABs
Not a good match for either parties.

At Nats Park:
.348 BA, .522 SA, 23 ABs
Hmmmmm: much better match.

Even taking into consideration the gap between pitching staffs (hitting Sox pitching vs. Nats pitching), that's still a big difference in hitting stats between the two venues.

Posted by: joemktg1 | December 19, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

think...not hink

Stupid man-thumbs...

__________________________________________________________

I don't hink the well will "dry up," at least not until Tex signs somewhere (here: doubtful).

Posted by: TimDz | December 19, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with most of what Boz says... but I would also point out that both the Red Sox and Boras have learned a thing or two about each other. If the Sox are really calling his bluff, then they have to believe that they have the best offer AND that none of the others in contention have the desire to match (or exceed) it. I don't think that is the case (though it is hard to know what Boras told them at the meeting). On the other hand, Boras has some incentive to get a contract somewhere else, if for no other reason than to gain some future negotiating leverage with the Red Sox - in other words, to give legs to the idea that Boras wasn't bluffing.

I think we can infer that the Red Sox's latest offer is comparable to other offers on the table. If it was superior, it would not be a good strategy for Boras to get the Red Sox to bid against themselves.

The bottom line is, there are still too many credible players in the negotiation to enter into a contest of brinksmanship, because if I am right, Teixeira can get a comparable deal elsewhere.

That said, it may well be what the Red Sox are doing, but it speaks to their level of need. The can afford to not sign him.

I am curious to know what Boras' impression of negotiating with the Lerners is...

Posted by: wigi | December 19, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

If anything, negotiating with the Lerners is definitely silent. The first offer was public but since then we've gotten nothin but chirping crickets and tumbleweeds.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 19, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

there has been reports the the Angels made Tex an offer that blew him away. However, there has been no confirmation that they went above the 8/160.

Also, it has been rumored that Tex was very much impressed with Ted Lerner. It also seems that Boras and Mark Lerner are getting a long very nicely.

It doesn't make sense for the Sox to have a meeting with Tex and Boras to get a deal done and for Boras to "lie" to them about other offers.

You can say "we have lots of interest" or "we have some very big offers on the table" without being specific. However, if Boras is fabricating that he has a bigger offer, what happens if no one bites. He looks like a fool and could cost his client money (like he did with Arod).

If you can believe any of the reports, which is getting harder and harder to do, then you would have to think that either the Nats or a mystery team (not yankees) are the team still standing. Hopefully we can know sooner than later and move on one way or the other.

There has been reports that Tex's family wants him to sign with the Nationals.

Posted by: brothbart | December 19, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Where are all these rumors and reports? Dude, you're just feeding the madness.
________________________
"there has been reports the the Angels made Tex an offer that blew him away."

"Also, it has been rumored that Tex was very much impressed with Ted Lerner. It also seems that Boras and Mark Lerner are getting a long very nicely."

"There has been reports that Tex's family wants him to sign with the Nationals."

Posted by: brothbart | December 19, 2008 1:43 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | December 19, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

If the Red Sox succeed in calling Boras' bluff, I wonder if Boras survives as the unchallenged superstar agent. If he's caught lying about offers, where does that leave him in future talks?

Posted by: fischy | December 19, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Here you go, also you can goto mlbtraderumors.com

Tex and Angels
Mike DiGiovanna says Boston's eight-year offer in the $175MM range as "significantly" better than the Angels' eight-year proposal. But DiGiovanna talked to Torii Hunter, who spoke to Teixeira and said the Angels "gave him an offer that blew everyone away." Also, DiGiovanna finds it doubtful that the Angels would match the two-year, $45MM offer the Dodgers made to Manny Ramirez.

www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/angels/la-sp-teixeira19-2008dec19,0,2549148.story?track=rss

Tex and Lerners
www.centralmainesportsblog.com/

They claim to have an inside source in the Nats organization that has been predicting for a week that the Nats were likely to get Tex. The guy running the site has joined WNFF and responded directly to skepticism expressed there, and continues to assert the Nats are going to be the winners.

Posted by: brothbart | December 19, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Hisotrically. it was thought that the Red Sox have a relatively good relationship with Boras in that they are willing to deal with him. They had 3 or so signings in row (Tek in '04, Dice-K and Drew in '07) where they paid good money to his clients. Perhaps less than he sought for Tek, but probably more than stats would say he's worth. They likely overpaid on Drew. Perhaps the Manny thing this year has ratcheted up the animosity, but since July, this is the 3d failed deal (Tek walking being another). Boras always tried to find an overpaying team. It looks like the Red Sox are more and more willing say, "talk to us when you get real, then we can deal."

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 19, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

"But don't have a heart attack every time there is 'news.' Because it usually isn't really 'news' at all. It's the rumor and negotiation game."
--------------------
I reserve the right to have my heart go into palpitations at any time when it involves the Nats. :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | December 19, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Bos - do you think that John Henry acted the way he did because he was so disarmed by Lerner's position in this negotiation? I mean, he's an unknown quantity, it's all new to everyone around him, but Ted has been a shark for 60 years now. That's got to be scary for the baseball establishement.

Posted by: Brue | December 19, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE BASEBALL, HOWEVER I THINK TEIXEIRA SHOULD HOLD OUT FOR $300M. BASEBALL NEEDS TO GET FIXED JUST LIKE THE AUTO INDUSTRY.

Posted by: Hx6MkxhW | December 20, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

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