Before the ink could even dry on C.C. Sabathia’s new monster contract from the New York Yankees, teams immediately turned their attention to the best bat available in this year’s free agent frenzy. In what has become one of the most memorable winters in recent years, Mark Teixeira’s name has been on the lips of many suitors. But it appears as if it is all about to come to an end as WEEI reports today that Karl Ravech of ESPN says we are nearing a dramatic conclusion.
Ravech also reports that the main five players in the Teixeira sweepstakes from the beginning – the Angels, Orioles, Nationals, Red Sox and Yankees – are the same ones who are in it today as they continue trying to one-up themselves with their offers. These offers are landing Big Teix in the $22 – $28 million a year range. So no matter where he chooses, he’ll be doing pretty well for himself.
So with all the offers essentially the same, I thought we’d look at all the teams involved as well as the pros and cons for each of them. Below is a look at these options and we’ll wrap things up with my final analysis of what I believe will happen. These are listed alphabetically and in no particular order:
Angels Reported Offer: 8 years, $160 million
The Angels may be the most desperate of the group as if they lose Teixeira, they lose the biggest piece of their offense. They are able to offer him a very strong chance at the post season as they have dominated the AL West for many years. Of course on the down side, Teixeira has said he wants to play out east as he is originally from Maryland. But again, the Angels need to sign him or they will be in trouble.
Nationals Reported Offer: 8 years, $160 million
Really all the Nationals have to offer Teixeira is money (that I’m not quite sure where they are getting from), the fact that it is near where he grew up and hope. Distant, far away hope that someday (hopefully within the 8 years of his contract) the Washington Nationals can put together a winning club. Of course this leads into the con and the fact that the Nationals can’t really show any progress towards ever winning.
Orioles Reported Offer: 7 years, $140-$150 million
While the Orioles may not be able to offer themselves as an instant contender in 2009, they can offer something none of the other teams can: home. Teixeira grew up in Maryland rooting for the Orioles and has said numerous times how he would love to play where he calls home. As a con they won’t be an instant contender but they do have a great base of youngsters who they can use to build around Teixeira.
Red Sox Reported Offer: 8 years, $160-$200 million
The biggest pros for the Red Sox are they have a great chance for the post season as well as most likely having the deepest pockets of all the teams. The Red Sox can dangle the fact that Teixeira will have a lot of protection in the lineup with the likes of Ortiz, Youkilis and Drew. Of course what happens in Interleague play or even the World Series when the Sox have to choose between Big Papi or Big Teix at first base against NL squads?
Yankees Reported Offer: 8 years, $160-$200 million
Their case is pretty much the exact same as the Red Sox have regarding a chance at the post season, a ton of money and lineup protection. Another thing both these clubs have in common is a less than patient fan base. Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter for the first month or two of the season and it would be interesting to see how Yankee and Red Sox fans treat their club’s newest addition. Not that this is a deterrent, but it’s something to think about.
Now that we’ve taken a peek at all the clubs involved as well as a few pros and cons for each, I believe that we can narrow Teixeira’s choice down to a team that is the best fit for him. In my opinion we can eliminate the Nationals based on the fact that they are going nowhere and probably won’t have a sniff of the playoffs within Teixeira’s potential 8 year contract. That leaves the three heavy hitters and Baltimore. If we go based on playing for a contender we would eliminate Baltimore but if we go based off playing out east we eliminate the Angels.
That brings us down to Boston and New York. It’s funny, it seems as if we always come down to Boston and New York. Both are contenders every season and both seemingly have an endless money tree planted somewhere in the front offices. With that being said, I am going to go out on a limb and say that Mark Teixeira will sign with the Baltimore Orioles. I know many of you probably disagree, but he keeps on mentioning how he wants to go home and play for the team he cheered on growing up. Plus the fact that he would instantly become the franchise player the Orioles have been searching for ever since Cal Ripken retired. He would be the center piece of a great young franchise that has a fan base begging for a chance to reach the playoffs again. It’s a perfect fit.
Now if I were Andy MacPhail, I would be doing everything possible to tug at Teixeira’s heart strings. I’d have current players like Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis and legends like Cal Ripken and Jim Palmer on the phone with him as much as possible. They should have courted him and courted him hard.
After all, franchise changing players like Mark Teixeira aren’t always available. When you have a chance to acquire them and beat out giant markets like Boston, New York and Los Angeles, you have to do it.
The Orioles have to do it.
By Matthew Whipps
“The Diamond Cutter“
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
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