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On Teixeira, Tangentially

Tracee astutely linked to the MLB.com story below about the Angels, with quotes from GM Tony Reagins saying Mark Teixeira is still their top target and shooting down reports that his team had moved on from Teixeira and begun focusing on pitcher C.C. Sabathia. Is he telling the truth? Posturing? Putting up a smoke screen?

I suspect Reagins is telling the truth, which would be an important distinction -- because it would seem to signal a Sabathia-to-the-Yankees signing is imminent. To this point, the Angels were widely viewed as Sabathia's best opportunity to bridge the gap between the mega-offer he reportedly received from the Yankees (six years, $140 million) and the lesser one he received from the Brewers (six years, $100 million), while also satisfying his preference for playing on the west coast.

If the Angels are inclined to wait it out with Teixeira, rather than commit all those dollars to a pitcher, there doesn't seem to be another option out there for Sabathia (whose agent has tried, unsuccessfully it seems, to involve the Dodgers and Giants). Given the ominous economic signs surrounding the game, I wouldn't be surprised if Sabathia -- perhaps grudgingly -- jumped on the Yankees' offer, before it disappeared.

As for the Angels, it always made more sense for them to focus on Teixeira, whom they desperately need to prop up their offense, and make Sabathia their fallback option. And if that fallback happens to evaporate, it would only increase their resolve for re-signing Teixeira.

So, just for kicks (and since we're headed to Vegas next week for the winter meetings), let's set the odds on who gets Teixeira. Here would be my handicapping (for entertainment purposes only):

Angels: 7-5
Red Sox: 5-1
"Mystery" Team (a Scott Boras specialty): 8-1
Yankees (assuming they get Sabathia): 20-1
Orioles: 30-1
Nationals: 50-1


By Dave Sheinin  |  December 3, 2008; 10:49 AM ET
 
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Comments

I think the key to who gets Teixeira to sign is going to be which matters more, total gross dollars committed or dollars per season.

I can see us going to 10 years $200mil, likely with player opt outs after say season 6 and 8 or something like that.

The Redsox, Angels and maybe Yanks will not want to committ to 10 years, but way offer more per season, say 22.5mil over 7 years or 25mil of 6. So which does Teixeira (or Boras) want more?

Posted by: estuartj | December 3, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I would have put us above the Orioles. If only because of money. Other than that it seems to be right.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 3, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Got newposted:

Also it will be interesting to see what transpires between "the team that shall not be named" and Nick Markakis, who, like Ryan Zimmerman, is in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Evidently "the team" would like to buy out three arbitration years plus the first three years of free agency, and made a "low-ball" offer in June or July valued at between $5-6 million per year. A Baltimore Sun story suggests it might take twice that amount to lure Markakis to sign, as in, Alex Rios/Hanley Ramirez money ($70m over 6-7 years).

Bottom lines: Markakis could help set the market for Zimmerman if he signs. And David Wright is looking like a bargain at 6 years, $55 million. Even with baseball supposedly in a "recession," the Nats may regret not offering Zim a Wright contract last year instead of a Tulo contract.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 3, 2008 11:42 AM

Posted by: BobLHead | December 3, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Bob, I was just going to point folks to your thoughtful analysis of the Markakis situation and how it pertains to Zimmerman.

If you want to pull even further back, think about that situation as it pertains to an offer to Teixeira. Like estaurtj points out, the Nats might be willing to offer more years than other teams, who will likely offer more per season.

If a Wright-like contract offer to Zimmeran could have been a bargain for the Nats in 2012, could the same be assumed of having the services of Teixeira for $22 million per year?

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 3, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Just because the Nats and Zimmerman haven't agreed on a long term deal - does not mean that the Nats haven't made an offer. Zimmerman and his agent sound just as hesitant as the Nats. And... unless the Nats improve the players around Zimmerman, he'll never sign more than a 1 year deal.

Posted by: comish4lif | December 3, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Clarification: I'm thinking down the road, in, let's say, five or six years. $22 million for a 34 year-old (all-star? gold glove?) first baseman. Will that look like savings in the future, or will it come back to haunt them?

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 3, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Peter Gammons is reporting that the BoSox just signed MVP Dustin Pedroia to a six-year, $40.5m contract. He's a year of service time behind Zim and Markakis but that still looks like a bargain for the former rookie of the year and current MVP and gold glove second sacker.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 3, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

JMpls, I think $22m for Teixeira at age 34 is a very reasonable risk; much less sure about $20 million at age 38 now that we're in the post-steroid era. Hence the debate over the 6-year $150m contract vs. the 10-year, $200mm contract.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 3, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

So, how about an 8 yr. deal? At 36, Teixeira could still be a pretty good player.

About the ominous economic signs -- what are the odds that the Nationals will adopt more realistic ticket prices?

Posted by: fischy | December 3, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The more I think about it the less inclined I am toward Dunn as a "fallback" to Teixeira (and I am a prime supporter of that AND firmly believe the team is making every effort to get it done).

Here is my view (subject to change :-).

Option A, either we get Teixeira or Nick is healthy (which do you consider more likely?)
1B NJ/Teix
LF Willingham
CF Milledge/Dukes
RF Dukes/Kearns

Option B, we don't get Teixeira and Nick is hurt
1B Willingham
LF Milledge
CF Dukes
RF Kearns

Basically I'm not sure that Dunn's defensive ineptitude vs Willingham (at 1B or LF) is not greater than his offensive prowess vs Willingham.

My only caveat at this point is that w/o Teixeira, Johnson or Dunn we basically have to lefty power in the line-up.

Seperate issue; What if instead of spending the "Dunn Money" on left field/1B we try to sign or trade for an impact 2B? O. Hudson or Dan Uggla come to mind, but is obtaining an impact lefty 2Bman an even tougher challenge? (And would you want to pitch in front of an infield of Willingham/Uggla/Guzman/Zimmerman?).

Posted by: estuartj | December 3, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"Option A, either we get Teixeira or Nick is healthy (which do you consider more likely?)"

Boy, I'd like to see those lines...

I'm interested in seeing more of the AG at second, estuartj, especially with time to develop a rapport with Guzman. He might be a Jesus Flores type.

I wouldn't necessarily cry bloody murder at Dunn taking over first, but I can't say I'd cheer it either. Focus on Teixeira and on the Rule 5 draft would be the priorities I'd set as GM, knowing full well that I was in for another heaping helping of angry fans.

Posted by: Section506 | December 3, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree. A contract gets harder to justify after six or seven years.

That is, unless they can avoid a no-trade clause. That way, they could ship a 36 year-old Teixeira to an AL team as a DH/1B hybrid.

But there are two problems with that: 1) Boras will want an NTC in the contract, and 2) we're talking about a 36 year-old Teixeira when the 28 year-old version hasn't even signed yet.

But if we're talking about discounts, BI has some insight into some possible immediate savings. Why wait for a long-term contract to bring a deal when you can get one now?

http://tinyurl.com/5nu7v7

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 3, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

JiM, Tex would be a 5 and 10 guy by the time he's 36, I don't think that a contract can prospectively waive those rights--though a player can of course agree to be traded even when he has the right not to be. So a no-trade in the contract would only matter for the first 5 years (when we wouldn't want to trade a guy like him anyway).

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 3, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey now, this is baseball. A 36 year old can still be a good 75% of the season starter as well as a valuable pinch hitter. Ten years of Teix is well worth $200 million and probably not DH land. Let's not forget that the role he plays can be passed to another teammate, even if he stays at first base.

Posted by: Section506 | December 3, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Manny Acta recently gave an interview to the sabermetric website Squawkingbaseball:

http://www.squawkingbaseball.com/?p=310

Posted by: BobLHead | December 3, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Teixeira and Boras will not want to tie themselves into a 10 year contract, but they would want to tie the signing team into it, thus my theory that any contract over 6 years will include a player opt-out clause.

Basically if he's healthy and productive he'll want to opt out to get another huge payday, but if he's not productive or hurt he is guaranteed the money. The dollar amount still owed after 6 years would also be a favorable baseline for a contract negotiation if he didn't want to risk the guaranteed remaining dollars, but did want to get a raise and extension (ie after 6 years he says he wants 6 more years at $25 mil or he'll opt out and try to get the same or similair deal via FA).

Posted by: estuartj | December 3, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

ESPN.com has just posted a "Sad State of Affairs" article on the Nats.

http://tinyurl.com/5lj87b

Sigh.

Posted by: erocks33 | December 3, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

IMO, when considering the top FAs, an 8-10 year deal with a player opt-out clause at 6-7 is basically a 6-7 year deal. Aside from catastrophic FA signings like Zito and performances like Andruw Jones, the overwhelming trend has been for the players to opt when whenever possible (see: ARod, JD Drew, AJ Burnett and Manny). It's the extra years they seek with the new deal, not necessarily a higher salary increase.

Looking at Tex (28 y.o), in 6-7 years, he'd be 34-35 and much more prime to sign another 5+ year mega-contract. After 10 years, he'd be 38 and years decrease.

Drew and Burnett were huge health questionmarks before their opt-out years, but had great seasons and parlayed that into big $$$. For Tex, even if he was average for the first 5 years, a stellar 6th or 7th opt-out year would set him up to cash in.

Posted by: jctichen | December 3, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

And the SF Giants are trying something different this year. Depending on the day/game, prices for selected seats in the upper-deck outfield will vary. Basically, a Dodgers game in August would fetch more than the normal asking price than a Nats game in April (which would cost less than the normal asking price).

It'll be interesting to see how this works. It's only a couple hundered of seats, but it's still a unique way to try and sell tickets to a game.

The Nats should consider this with the seats directly under the Scoreboard. Since you can't see the scoreboard if you're sitting there (and the ribbon boards don't offer much valuable information), they should have a rotating price structure for those seats. Mets or Phillies in town? $25. Astros or Padres in town? $10.

Posted by: erocks33 | December 3, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

What are the ominous economic signs that surround the game? Please explain.

Posted by: 6thandD | December 3, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

@erocks -- they already do that. Cubs games, among others, cost more.

and 6th -- read the papers lately?

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 3, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"What are the ominous economic signs that surround the game? Please explain.

Posted by: 6thandD | December 3, 2008 2:03 PM"

To steal a line from James Carville and the 1992 Clinton campaign: It's the economy, stupid.

Posted by: raykingsgutfeeling2 | December 3, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"@erocks -- they already do that. Cubs games, among others, cost more."

Not only that. Ever notice those large groups that will populate big chunks of the RF upper deck? (They're easy to spot because they tend to all wear the same T shirt, so you see a big solid block of color in the section.) Think they are paying full price for those tickets? I don't.

Posted by: raykingsgutfeeling2 | December 3, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't think we can take the Crasnick story too seriously. It's more of a gathering of previous opinions than anything new. Definitely a conventional wisdom piece, and not even too great of one, since it completely omits Elijah Dukes in its "silver lining" section.

The other major problem with it is that he suggests (I believe correctly) that the team lacks an identity. Then he lists of three or four extremely different suggestions. Apparently the identity he has in mind for the Nationals is "opportunistic."

Finally, there's a prominent quotation from my favorite agent, A. Nonymous, who questions where the Lerners could possibly acquire $20 million a year. Mr. Nonymous apparently has not been paying as much attention to payroll as we have around here.

Posted by: Section506 | December 3, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

CiL, good catch.

506, I said a contract was harder to justify after six or seven years, not impossible. But you're right, I probably jumped the gun shipping him off the AL at 36. Good point.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 3, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I get it now, JiM. I think that's a good thing to keep in mind actually. You sign a long term contract expecting to get ripped off the last few years in exchange for getting a steal the first few.

Posted by: Section506 | December 3, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I actually thought the Crasnick article was fairly well informed and well balanced compared to other write-ups of similar ilk.

And erocks, nice manifesto in the comments section! We need to get you a job in the Nats marketing office (if such a thing exists).

Posted by: BobLHead | December 3, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Finally, there's a prominent quotation from my favorite agent, A. Nonymous, who questions where the Lerners could possibly acquire $20 million a year. Mr. Nonymous apparently has not been paying as much attention to payroll as we have around here."

Not only that. They get more than $20 million a year, guaranteed, from MASN for like the next thirty years. They could sign Teixiera and pay for him entirely with the MASN money. Remember that quote from Stan that all the Lerners are Cheap crowd took delight in disparaging a couple years ago, the one about how if you don't spend money now you have it available to spend later? Despite all the scoffing, that's a true statement, and it's even more true now in these recessionary times. Had the Nats tied up money in long-term payroll over the last couple of years, they wouldn't be in the market for ANYONE this offseason. But they didn't, and therefore they are.

Posted by: raykingsgutfeeling2 | December 3, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I know that most teams increase ticket prices for the "premium" games. But what the Giants are doing is different. They are offering the same seats at different prices. These are individual seats and not the discounted group-rate seats that most clubs do.

For example ... let's say normal seats in that section are $15. Like most teams, when a high-profile opponent comes in (Dodgers, Cubs, etc), the price will go up to say $20. But when lesser drawing teams come in (Nats, Marlins, Astros), the price will actually drop to say $10.

Usually, teams would just keep the same $15 cost regardless how crappy the oppponent is. I like the approach the Giants are trying. I hope the Nats consider this as well.

Also, I think the Nats should offer up some kind of "Two for Tuesday" kind of promotion. Buy one ticket, get the other free. Weekday games are less populated than weekend games (especially during April and May), so why not offer up more discounts earlier in the season to get more people into the stadium?

Posted by: erocks33 | December 3, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"I actually thought the Crasnick article was fairly well informed and well balanced *compared to other write-ups of similar ilk.*"

I see that lawyerly distinction there.

Posted by: Section506 | December 3, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"Usually, teams would just keep the same $15 cost regardless how crappy the oppponent is. I like the approach the Giants are trying. I hope the Nats consider this as well. "

The Lerners are a Jewish family business. How 'bout they sell the stadium naming rights to another Jewish family business, Syms, and adopt the Syms pricing model? I can see the commercial now...

"Hello, I'm Sy Syms. This seat in Syms Stadium goes on sale for $25 on Opening Day. If it stays unsold on Memorial Day, the price drops to $20. On the Fourth of July, it will sell for $15, and on Labor Day it becomes final at $10. Syms Stadium, where an educated consumer is our best fan. Just don't expect any pennants out of the deal."

Posted by: raykingsgutfeeling2 | December 3, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't think there are any Syms in VA. I had to look it up.

Why don't they follow the model of another business, formally owned by a semi-local Jewish family: Giant. Swipe your bonus card and get a discount to only 160% of the products actual price while they carefully track your spending habits!

Posted by: Section506 | December 3, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree 100%, BLHead. Great job erocks. Here's your link to that job Bob was suggesting:
http://tinyurl.com/5wdjnr

************************************
And erocks, nice manifesto in the comments section! We need to get you a job in the Nats marketing office (if such a thing exists).

Posted by: BobLHead | December 3, 2008 2:42 PM

Posted by: Section138 | December 3, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

erocks, your first assignment upon getting the job is to correct the fact that when you click on the link to the Nats website that is supposed to display the just-released Spring Training schedule (as announced in today's e-mail from nationals.com), you get a message indicating that no such schedule is available at this time.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 3, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

BobL ... I'm on it!

Posted by: erocks33 | December 3, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why it is so hard to explain what the Giants are actually doing with their ticket prices.

This is not the standard "Premium" games which all teams have incorporated. Dodgers games in September are always more expensive than let's say oh...Nationals games in June.

What they are doing is a step beyond that. They have a computer program that will gauge the popularity of the game: team, current standings, pitching matchup, etc. and the prices will actually fluctuate daily. So someone who bought a ticket in April may end up paying more (or less) for that same ticket/same game as another person who bought a ticket in June.
Here's the article:

http://tinyurl.com/653beg

The example cited was apt: The Barry Bonds homerun breaking game against the Nationals. A weak opponent, weekday game, no pennant race.

Posted by: noahthek | December 3, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

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