Angels turn attention to Teixeira

Angels turn attention to Teixeira

LAS VEGAS -- With CC Sabathia and the Yankees breaking the Winter Meetings' logjam with their blockbuster deal, offers are starting to surface for Mark Teixeira, who stands alongside Manny Ramirez as the most highly valued position players in free agency.

The Nationals, hoping to make a splash in the highly competitive National League East, delivered Teixeira an offer of $160 million for eight years, averaging $20 million per year, according to a Major League source. Nationals general manager Jim Bowden confirmed that an offer had been made but did not address terms.

"We made a very concrete offer and Teixeira is our No. 1 priority," Bowden said. "I tried to be up-front and honest. We are trying to build this club through development and scouting, through young players, through trades for young players. We also said if it was a free agent who was young and in his 20s, [we would want him] to be part of the long-term solution."

Angels GM Tony Reagins, who also is interested in Teixeira, said of the Nationals' reported offer, "It's speculation. I don't think it's the proper thing to do, to negotiate in the media.

"I think a lot of numbers have been thrown out, not just in recent days but in recent months. This process has gone as we expected. We knew it wasn't going to be quick."

Along with the Nationals and Angels, the Red Sox, Orioles and Yankees are either involved in the Teixeira talks or expected to formulate bids.

"All the clubs have made concrete offers," Scott Boras, Teixeira's agent, said. "We've countered and gone back and forth. Maybe something could happen here, but there are a lot of decisions to make as time goes on.

"We're going through the negotiating process. I've done enough of these before to know you might think you're getting to a critical period, only for other things to come up to stretch the process well beyond the time frame of the Meetings."

The Angels, who acquired Teixeira from the Braves on July 29 in exchange for Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek, have maintained steady contact with Boras but have not disclosed the specifics of any proposals for the slugging first baseman.

"He knows where we stand," Reagins said Wednesday, "and we know where he stands. We have a level of salary and years we're comfortable with, and we're hopeful we can get something done. We think it's fair; whether that gets it done or not, I couldn't tell you. But I think it's fair."

Reagins would not say what those limits are and has made no disclosure of a concrete offer to Teixeira. Addressing the media on Wednesday, Boras seemed to suggest a proposal has been tendered when he said, "You need to revisit that with the Angels."

Teixeira's needs, the agent said, "are the usual -- consideration of what's good for his family, the economics, a team that can win. All of that enters into the evaluation. He has played in both leagues, so he can evaluate what's best for his family."

That third consideration -- a contending club -- could be viewed as a stumbling block for Washington and Baltimore.

The Nationals, 59-102 in 2008, haven't had a winning season since they were Expos of Montreal in 2002. The Orioles were 68-93, their 11th consecutive losing season.

"No player is excited to see a team lose 100 games," Boras said. "The issue of interest becomes, 'How are they planning to win long term?' "

If the Angels are planning to pursue Ramirez in the event they can't land Teixeira, they are not tipping their hand. Reagins has labeled that prospect "unlikely," a position he said hadn't changed as of Wednesday.

Ramirez's former club, the Red Sox, think enough of Teixeira to have jumped aggressively into the bidding, according to multiple sources, with the idea of moving Kevin Youkilis from first base to third, Mike Lowell's position.

There is a widely held assumption that Teixeira, who attended Georgia Tech, prefers the relocate on the East Coast.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia, hoping to plant the switch-hitting first baseman back in the No. 3 spot in his order in front of Vladimir Guerrero, feels that assumption is invalid.

"I don't think it's as much now that he's spent time out in Southern California," Scioscia said. "I think he's very comfortable there, as comfortable as he is moving back East with all the connections he has back East.

"I don't anticipate that being an issue. I think it would have been different if maybe he never had a chance to play [in Anaheim] for a couple months and gotten to experience it. I know Mark had a great experience with us and was very comfortable."

Teixeira batted .358 in 54 games with the Angels with 13 homers and 43 RBIs. He reached the 30-homer, 100-RBI plateau for the fifth straight season, finishing with 33 homers and 121 RBIs while batting a combined .308 with the Braves and Angels.

"He can change a whole lineup," Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. "When he gets in a lineup, guys get more protection. I watch him, the younger players watched him. He's so patient as a hitter. You hear things about him in the clubhouse ... but he's awesome."

That is exactly what the Nationals would be hoping for -- someone to change their lineup. In Washington, Teixeira would join Ryan Zimmerman to anchor the middle of a lineup that finished 28th in the Majors in runs scored.

Teixeira has been Washington's top free-agent target since the offseason began. First basemen Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson have been unable to stay in the lineup due to health issues. Teixeira has averaged 151 games in six Major League seasons.

Baltimore, 11th in baseball in runs scored, has quality hitters in the heart of the order in Aubrey Huff, Nick Markakis and Melvin Mora. Teixeira would be a centerpiece -- and an exciting hometown draw for fans.

Teixeira, who will be 29 on April 11, has two Gold Gloves to go with his two Silver Slugger Awards.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.