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Teixeira: The Lay of the Land

Today is the last full day of the winter meetings (tomorrow is essentially the Rule 5 Draft, followed by everyone scurrying to the airport), and there doesn't appear to be much chance of Mark Teixeira signing a contract on the premises of the Bellagio Hotel. Everyone I've spoken to expects this process to bleed into next week, if not next year.

Here, though, is where everyone appears to stand:

*Yankees: Based on what Yankees officials have been saying, I believe the Sabathia signing essentially takes them out of the bidding for Teixeira. You can never say never, because they're the Yankees and they could get motivated if Teixeira looks like he's going to Boston, but they have always looked at Teixeira as more of a fallback in case they struck out on Sabathia.

*Angels: Owner Arte Moreno has been telling people Teixeira is still his top target and they appear to want him back desperately. But there are also indications they are not willing to go beyond six or maybe seven years. It remains to be seen how adamant they are about this. Scott Boras, of course, wants 10 years.

*Red Sox: Most people here are now speaking of them as the front-runners, which may indicate they have shown a willingness to go eight years or beyond. The Yankees' signing of Sabathia has raised the stakes in the AL East, and it is also believed that Boston has been Scott Boras's desired landing spot for Teixeira all along, since it would leave teams like the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers to bid on Manny Ramirez.

*Nationals: We've heard talk of "concepts" and "parameters" being discussed -- this is agent-speak for "offers," only they are not articulated specifically as such. It's largely a matter of semantics. (If I tell you I can discuss a "concept" of something like eight years $160 million, have I made you an offer?) The Nationals appear to be very much alive for Teixeira, but as before are wary of setting the market for him just so Boras can squeeze more money out of someone else. They are bristling at the notion, put forth in print a few times, that this is like Alex Rodriguez and the Texas Rangers all over again, with owner Tom Hicks bidding against himself.

The Nationals don't appear to have a big problem with a lengthy deal, since they would envision Teixeira as a long-term cornerstone anyway. What they might balk at, however, is the sort of opt-out clause Boras likes to negotiate for his clients, such as Rodriguez's original deal with Texas.

*Mystery Team: There's always one or two of those in a Scott Boras negotation. Maybe that's what the Orioles have been reduced to. Haven't heard much from them lately.

By Dave Sheinin  |  December 10, 2008; 11:16 AM ET
 
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Comments

I think this comes down to two things;

1. Is Teixeira/Boras more intersted in Gross Dollars or Dollars per year. I think we'll have the highest gross dollar offer, but the Sox may go 7/8 years at a higher $/yr.

2. How well can we sell the Nats as a future WS competitor? If we can sell Teixeira on being the linchpin to pull the "kids" (Flores/Zim/Dukes/Milledge/Lannan/Balester) from a 85-90 loss team (with bad injury luck taking them to 102) to a 85-90 win team with him, Willingham, Olsen and Guz as the vets. Making the case for how committed they are to winning by giving Teixeira 200/10 will go a long way, plus show that Stratsburg won't be a replay of last years draft.

I'd rate each of these about even to Teixeira. The opt out might be an issue, but maybe not. I'm sure Boras will want a full no-trade clause too, also a possible issue for Kasten.

I think this gets done by middle of next week, the groundwork is probably done at this point and they'll collect offers/bids this weekend.

Posted by: estuartj | December 10, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I still think the Nats essentially have no shot at Tex, and that Nick Johnson will eventually end up at first for the Nats for at least the month of April, or until his next bone jarring setback occurs. Adam (Hondo II) Dunn seems a more likely signing to me. The team will sign more players after Jan 1 when the prices start falling like the price of oil has lately....count on it.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 10, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm almost more curious to see what the team has in mind for Center Field. My hunch (based on no solid info what so ever) is that they inquired about Gonzales, offered Redding, COL said no, but offered Tavares instead and the nats said no thanks. I bet this still might work out, but the number of players might have to increase to get the properly balance what both teams want.

A SP (even a marginal one like Redding) is worth more than a CF prospect (which Gonzales still is at this point), but after trading to get him COL is no wanting to let him go cheap. I think maybe a SP prospect would come to DC and maybe a OF prospect like Leonard Davis goes to COL to get it done.

Posted by: estuartj | December 10, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Could it be that the Nats are really just sitting and waiting for Boston's offer to come in? Maybe 7 years, 160? Then they say screw that, 10 years 200? A guy can hope, can't he?

Posted by: Cavalier83 | December 10, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Cav...10/200...Nats offer...whatever u smokin, pass it along. The brief history of the Nats wallet doesn't show any inclination to open that wide. I'd be shocked.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 10, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals have one big advantage. Their already small payroll was reduced by 40% by the movement of several veterans off the roster at the end of last season and into the offseason.

So, if they are serious about Teixiera, they can probably offer him the 9 or 10 year deal at megabucks because the other potential core players on the team are years away from free agency.

The question in the end is whether the player wants to be the face of a franchise while taking the risk it is going to improve or whether he simply wants to be one of the very good players on a team that is already a contender.

Posted by: leopard09 | December 10, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Cavalier, you should hope. The Nats will go 10/200, it's the opt-out clause that will be the sticking point.

Posted by: Section506 | December 10, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The brief history of the Nats wallet also encompasses two and a half years of control by the other owners and one and half years during which there really weren't any big time, young guys who fit into the "plan." If the comments, supposition and innuendo are to be believed, the Nats truly covet Tex and are willing to put the money out there. Whether money is enough to overcome the obvious shortcomings is an altogether different issue.

And, it appears that you prefer to snort rather than smoke...but maybe I'm just being presumptuous :o)

Posted by: Cavalier83 | December 10, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The biggest advantage the Nats do have right now is that it's basically all or nothing on Teixeira. I think Dunn is possible, but we've also heard grumblings that although Lerner IS willing to dish the dollars for Teixeira they are NOT for Dunn.

I wonder if the CC deal makes Boston feel more pressure to sign Teixeira or Lowe (or Burnett)?

I think we're still talking "parameters" with Boras until the Redsox show thier hand, then I think they'll keep out bidding the sox up to somewhere around that 10/200 number everyone has been using for a month or so now.

The other half of that sale is still pitching the team as a contender, can they convince Teixeira that with him this is a .500 team and can be in the pennant and WS hunt in '10? I love the idea of the team having Teix, Zim, Dukes & Willingham at the "Corners" with Flores, Guz, Hernandez & Milledge up the middle. Add a righty version of Olsen/Lannan and keep away the injury plague (bug would be ok, but last year was crazy) and I DO think this is a .500 team. Now what does Teix think?

Posted by: estuartj | December 10, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Putting on Cynic Cap.

Nationals extended the deadline for season ticket holders to renew their tickets almost 3 weeks from the original date (mid november to now Dec12th). Ironically, this date allows them to continue to leak fantastic press releases to suckers like WP beat reporters, Bill Ladsen (the king of all drinkers of the Natioanls kool-aid) and others who somehow believe that a team that refuses to sign any starting pitching to anything more than a non-guaranteed Minor League contract is going to shell out $160M-$200M for Teixeira? Really?

Someone tell me why Teixeira would ever come to Washington over the likes of the Yankees, Angels and Red Sox. Those three teams combined have only missed the playoffs 4 times out of 21 opportunities in the last 7 years. They spend 3-4 times as much on payroll, have rabid fan bases, good facilities and a history of recent success.

We are an inept 102-loss franchise with no direction in terms of who is gonna pitch next season, mired with bad contracts overpaying oft-injured players (Johnson, Pena) with sh*tty attitudes (Kearns, Young) and no history.

I think you guys are ridiculous for thinking that our "involvement" in the Teixeira talks is more than blatant PR to keep a season ticket base from getting cut from 20,000 to 12,000. Because thats what I think it is.

Call me in 3 months, when we've overpayed Adam Dunn to come play a lumbering left field, we've addressed zero concerns related to our starting rotation, we continue to have 6 corner outfielders and 5 second basemen on our 40-man roster and we have zero hope for 2009.

Posted by: tboss | December 10, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

cokedispatch:

Of course there's no history of the Nats doing something like that (a mega-offer to a free agent). But many people wrongly assume that means that they are unwilling to do so for the right free agent. Kasten has repeatedly have said that they are players in the free agent market for the right player. Teixeira is that player.

I, too would be shocked at an offer of that magnitude, but I would be shocked by that offer from any team. Teixeira has value to the Nats beyond what he delivers on the field, and so they are in the best position to get the maximum return on investment. My prediction is that the Nats will be no worse than number 2 in this race... and the bad guys here will be the Red Sox, who will serve to drive the price up. The Sox may get him, but the Nats will be glad to be number 2 in that race. It will be obscenely high.

(If the Angels were seriously in the mix, the deal might have been done already. They have no standing over what any other team has. Since it has come down to open bidding for his services, his history with them has little value. For the Angels, all they have to offer is money... and they seem unwilling to go the length of the contract. Advantage, Nats)

Posted by: wigi | December 10, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

tboss-

You are my hero.

Satan

Give up all hope ye who enter these gates...

Posted by: estuartj | December 10, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

i'm calling it now. we sign Tex by Christmas.

Posted by: longterm | December 10, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Putting on my optimist hat in response to tboss:

If fantastic press releases detailing the Nats' interest in Teixeira had not saved season ticket deposits by late November, I'm sure the front office doesn't expect them to do so in mid-December either. Perhaps they extended the deadline hoping to improve sales by actually signing someone, not just talking about signing someone.

I can't imagine that discussions about a potential signing sometime in the future would pursuade too many of those 8,000 fans to reup. Nor do I believe that a heap of new folks would jump on the "hope" bandwagon and pick up tickets because of the Tex talk.

The fact that those teams you mentioned do spend so much on payroll actually plays into the Nats' hands. It has been widely rumored that the Sox are upping the Burnett ante. It is going to be difficult, even for them, to spend 100 mil on a pitcher and 200 mil on a bat this offseason.

You also mentioned being tied down with bad contracts. From what I understand, this is the only year that any, other than Guz and maybe one other, are actually under contract. Hopefully, the Nats can ink Tex, show Zim that they do have a commitment to winning, and ink him, too. Judging by the numbers that a couple of his peers with far superior resumes have gotten (Wright, Braun, Pedroia), he can be signed for a rather pedestrian number. That would put the nats on the hook for less than $40 mil next year...plenty of room in the budget to fill out the roster.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | December 10, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Exactly what has Austin Kearns done to demonstrate he has a "sh*tty" attitude?

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 10, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

well he has played in Cincy and DC his entire career...

Posted by: longterm | December 10, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, Kearns didn't say "Yes, ma'am" once.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | December 10, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

JiM, I hope that was rhetorical. You know very well that around here performance and attitude are correlated one-to-one.

Posted by: Section506 | December 10, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Putting On Cynic Cap:

Then the roster is full of sh**ty attitudes. Oh, and five second basemen too.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | December 10, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Kearns has a sh*tty attitude?

Posted by: combedge | December 10, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

JiM,

I was wondering the same thing myself.


I think the Nats have a legit shot at Tex. I get the feeling that Kasten understands that the fan base needs a jolt and this may be it. If they don't get Tex they will make a splash some other way. Dunn and a solid starter and perhaps a trade or two.

Posted by: Section505203 | December 10, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Ooops - guess I hadn't refreshed in awhile! Seems I'm not the only one puzzled by the assertion that Kearns has a crappy attitude...

Posted by: combedge | December 10, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

tboss is spot on!

The media gods (ie ESPN etc.)have deemed Washington DC as a place best left to corrupt politicians and an annually over-hyped football team.

Although a Tex signing by the Nats might alter the landscape to some degree, it really wouldn't make a hill of beans of difference to the likes of dead-tree media hounds, or the Danny synchophats over at 980.

Truth be known, MT goes to Boston he becomes just another cog in the already over-exposed Boston to NY to Chicago to LA baseball express.

He comes here and risks a quick death to obscurity.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | December 10, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

pLeAsE lEt It Be TeX!

Posted by: Keenan1 | December 10, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

so, playing in a city that doesn't contend often, or at all, means that you have a sh*tty attitude? I think it just means that you haven't been that successful... not nearly the same thing. From what I can tell, and I'm sure there are people that would agree with me, that Kearns is a very professional baseball player and takes his job seriously. If you want to discuss crappy attitudes, let's talk about Felipe Lopez

Posted by: wnorton81 | December 10, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

the "Kearns has a bad attitude" comment comes from an incident that occurred during the Season Ticket holder picnic at the park. There were several players who apparently wanted no part of being there, made no attempt to talk with fans or engage people or even act like they were interested.

Kearns wasn't the only player who needed to get some basic customer service lessons that day. Season ticket holders are the lifeblood of revenue for this team right now and the last thing the team needs is to ostrasize them.

Posted by: tboss | December 10, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The Yankee payroll is available on the internet but even without looking at the details in general this is the story. Yankees dropped 80M in payroll at the end of 2008. The gave 23M per to CC. Add
15M per for FA pitcher #2 =38 and 42 remaining to be spent. Tex at 200M for 10 is 20 of the 42, leaving enough for FA pitcher #3
15M leaving 7M. That would give them about a 200M budget down 7M from 2008. In fact, if they could trade Damon and Matsui for a slew of minor league talent they could afford Manny too. Thinking that the Yanks are now out of the Tex chase is silly.


Posted by: grayyak | December 10, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Yahoo has the Nats making an offer of $150M/7 yrs to Tex.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ys-motateixeiranats121008&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

And away we go!

Posted by: WebberDC | December 10, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

It will take 200M /10 because that is what the Yankees can afford.

Posted by: grayyak | December 10, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Same length but 11 million total and 1.5 mill per/year less than Sabathia. But similar, if not exact to what yankess started at on Sabathia. Nats likely are going to have to add years/dollars.

Posted by: tlynch44 | December 10, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"Yankees dropped 80M in payroll at the end of 2008. "

And the Yankees have no one eligible for arbitration?

Posted by: Section506 | December 10, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

So, being quiet at some dumb picnic means you have a bad attitude? Kearns plays his ass off every day including playing through a lot of injuries. He hasn't well enough so far but his attitude isn't the problem.

Agree Yanks are definitely in race for Tex. They need 1B more than the Sox, who already have a gold-glove, top-notch hitter at 1B. Yanks have Swisher, not adequate.

Still dreaming of Tex as a Nat but not optimistic. If I'm him, how do you turn down the Yankees and Red Sox? Come here and you will NOT be in the play-offs for 2-3 years at least. Lot to ask.

Posted by: Avar | December 10, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The Yankees had Abreu, Giambi and others abritration eligible but why would the Yankees go to arbritration with Abreu for example, who got 16M last year. In arbritration they will almost always get the same number as last year. As Casey said, "You can look it up"
The Yankee case for Giambi was worse, I think he was over 20M!
Neither will get 12M maybe not even 10 this year.

Posted by: grayyak | December 10, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to take that guy to task for putting the Meat in the bad attitude group. The man has a life-threatening disease. If you don't believe that, ask Ron Santo, he has no feet now.

He has been a model player and teammate here. Lopez is the only guy I would credit with a shi**y attitude that was on the roster this year. Several guys did a few dumb things but that's different than having an overall attitude problem.

Posted by: Avar | December 10, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"Lopez is the only guy I would credit with a shi**y attitude that was on the roster this year."

Two words: Johnny Estrada.

Posted by: raykingsgutfeeling2 | December 10, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

2:35pm: Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times has the Nats willing to offer ten years at more than $20MM per and the Orioles willing to do nine years also at at least $20MM per year.
------

from MLBTradeRumors

Posted by: MrMadison | December 10, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

from what I am reading, both the Angels and Nats are currently at 8/160 for Tex, the Nats are willing to go up to 10/200 from every indication.

Posted by: MrMadison | December 10, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody realize that the Lerner-Stans bought the club for just over 400M, that mean that if they decide to swallow the Borass Bait they will have essentially spent half the value of the franchise on one player. That is out of whack if you as me.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | December 10, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

>Does anybody realize that the Lerner-Stans bought the club for just over 400M, that mean that if they decide to swallow the Borass Bait they will have essentially spent half the value of the franchise on one player. That is out of whack if you as me.<

3 billion says it's not.

Posted by: Brue | December 10, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Another "huh?" from me on the Kearns attitude front. I've observed only "good attitude" from him, particularly as regards his interactions with kids.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 10, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Kearnsy's "attitude" shows up toward bossy, rude, entitled season ticket holders?

Posted by: NatsNut | December 10, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

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