What’s the price tag for Teixeira?
I’m going to make a departure from talking about the quest for the holy rotation, and take a moment to look at a free agent race the Braves will not be taking part in. That would be the courting of premier first baseman Mark Teixeira.
There have been a few rumors, but nothing really to report in the way of offers just yet. With plenty of time left, and the Winter Meetings still a couple of weeks away, the teams that are serious about signing Teixeira are going to have pony up some serious cash for a long term commitment.
It’s been reported that Miguel Cabrera‘s 8-year $153 million contract is thought to the jumping off point for any offers submitted for Teixeira’s services. It seems logical to me. Teixeira’s physical conditioning and gold glove defense add two aspects that are not present in Cabrera’s list of attributes. Statistically, Cabrera holds the edge in career batting average, at .309 to Teixeira’s .290. Otherwise Teixeira has the lead in both homers (203 to 175) and RBI (676 to 650). The two players are practically identical in OBP (Cabrera leads .381 to .378) and dead even in slugging (.541). For those wondering, Teixeira has played in 24 more games, so this statistical analysis is pretty spot on.
The biggest difference (on paper anyway) in the two players is Cabrera being three years younger than the 28-year old Teixeira. While an eight year deal is likely to see Teixeira give what should be the prime years of his career for the club that signs him, it is worth noting that he has already turned down an 8-year $140+ million extension from the Texas Rangers. That prompted the trade that brought him to Atlanta in July of 2007.
Atlanta GM Frank Wren stated that the Braves made Teixeira and agent Scott Boras an offer that would have given the first baseman a salary that was among “the highest in baseball.” It seems pretty clear after the trade with the Angels that it was likely the length of contract where the two sides could not come together. No one knows exactly what that means, but I’d project that any deal with the Braves was probably worth about $19 million per season. Not exactly underwhelming in and of itself, but there may be a team out there willing to pay more. If knowing that the previous offer was an eight-year pact, would the Braves go shorter in duration? We may never know.
What I do know is that the Braves traded a considerable bundle of talent to the Texas Rangers, a team which has gotten markedly better rather quickly. They may even trade what was once the center piece of the deal, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, this off-season. They have plenty of depth at catcher. Anyway you look at it, the Rangers made off much better than just receiving compensation picks in next years draft. Shortstop Elvis Andrus hit .295 with 54 stolen bases at AA, while starter Matt Harrison went 9-3 with a 5.49 ERA in 15 starts for the Rangers.
This is the point I would usually stop because I’ve seen enough, but there were two more prospects in that deal. Perhaps the brightest spot for Texas will be righty Neftali Feliz, who won 10 games at two stops and struck out 153 batters in 127.1 innings. More sickening? He surrendered just three homers in doing so. Lefty Beau Jones looks destined as a career in relief, but his low to mid-90s fastball and plus curveball show it could become a nice piece of the puzzle in Arlington within the few years.
One of these days, I am going to stop laying out the merits of this deal in hindsight. It was a risk/reward deal from the beginning, and the Braves gave themselves at least two shots to win with Teixeira. It didn’t work out. Not all trades do.
Getting back to the subject at hand, the race to sign Teixeira looks to have at least five possibilities that we know of. The Angels, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals – as of yesterday, and perhaps the Baltimore Orioles. Rest assured though, we all know that the words “hometown discount” will not be factoring in to any deal for the last two teams on that list. And the word “discount” will not be making an appearance in any deal Teixeira ends up signing… in case you were wondering… which you shouldn’t be at this point.
It’s hard to handicap the sweepstakes in my view. I could see Boston. I could see a return to the Angels. Then the Nationals had to go and make me wonder. One place I don’t see being Teixeira’s plans is the Bronx. He just doesn’t strike me as a New York kind of guy. Then again, a teary-eyed Jason Giambi didn’t when the Yankees bounced Oakland out of the post-season in 2001. I reserve the right to be wrong.
Ok, I’ll say that Mark Teixeira is a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Merry Christmas Red Sox Nation.
Till Next time,