ESPN is reporting that the Nationals have offered Mark Teixeira an eight-year, $160 million contract.
At the same time, SI.com is reporting, “The Red Sox are one of the most aggressive pursuers of Teixeira, with several executives predicting he may wind up there.”
The Nationals’ offer sets the bar for Teixeira’s services. Will the Sox have to offer more money and/or years, or does playing in Boston, for a winning team, with a very passionate fanbase mean more than playing near his hometown in Maryland?
Naturally Scott Boras will try to draw this out as long as he can. However, Teixeira has said he would like a resolution by Christmas.
The question is, now that the Angels have lost out on CC Sabathia, will they be all the more motivated to retain Teixeira? Could they swoop in with an overwhelming offer? The LA Times says the Angels are reluctant to go past seven years for Teixeira. And though they still need more pitching, the Yankees can never be discounted.
However, unfortunately for the Angels, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that two Major League sources said Teixeira would prefer to be on the East Coast for family reasons. With that in mind, the Nationals and Orioles are pushing hard to bring Teixeira back to the Maryland area.
Last night, Rosenthal reported that, according to a Major League source, the Red Sox are making progress in their quest to sign Teixeira. “Headway was being made earlier today,” the source said. A rival general manager whose plans could be affected by the Red Sox’s addition of Teixeira also indicated that a deal was getting closer.
Teixeira is seeking a 10-year contract for at least $20 million per season. The Red Sox preference would be to sign him to a deal between six and eight years.
The free agent first baseman will be 29 on April 11, coinciding with the opening week of the 2009 season. By all indications, he’s a solid long-term investment. Eight years seems like a reasonable contract length for a player of Teixeira’s age and ability.
But if the Sox are pushed to 10 years, they would likely deem it acceptable. They will do whatever it takes to get it done. Teixeira is the big fish they’re determined not to let slip away.
Having never hit fewer than 26 homers in his six major-league seasons, Teixeira certainly seems like a better long-term investment than Sabathia. Paying astronomical money to a guy who plays every day makes more sense than guaranteeing it to one who plays every five days, and who has weight issues. Questions about his long-term durability will continue to dog Sabathia for at least the next couple of years.
Teixeira remains the hottest commodity on the free agent market because he’s been durable, injury-free, and highly productive. Over six full seasons, his career stat line looks like this: .290 average, .919 OPS, 203 HR, 676 RBI
Last season, split between the Braves and Angels, Teixeira hit .308 with 33 home runs and 121 RBI. He’s proven himself in both leagues. He is an All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove winner, and a two-time Silver Slugger winner.
Without question, Teixeira is a very solid hitter and a bona fide slugger; he is one of just five players in Major League history to hit at least 100 home runs in his first three seasons.
For these reasons, he has been described as the “apple of Theo Epstein’s eye.” This is why the Red Sox will not fail in their effort to bring home their single highest priority this offseason.