Yankees monitoring Teixeira hunt

Updated: December 23, 2008, 3:21 PM ET
By Buster Olney and Peter Gammons | ESPN.com

At a time when Mark Teixeira's decision about where he wants to sign is seemingly imminent, the Baltimore Orioles' negotiations for the free-agent first baseman appear dormant. The Yankees, on the other hand, continue to review their options, preparing for the possibility -- however real it is -- that Teixeira might make them an offer that they couldn't refuse.

The Boston Red Sox or the Washington Nationals continue to be the most likely destinations for Teixeira, executives involved in the process believe -- the Red Sox, with an offer that might be in the range of $170 million, and the Nationals perhaps with a proposal greater than that of Boston.

Olney: Time to make a mark

Mark Teixeira is going to wind up with a terrific contract, but he'll have to take someone's money soon -- his leverage has likely maxed out, Buster Olney writes. Blog
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On Baseball Today, Buster Olney joins Eric Karabell and Peter Pascarelli to deliver the latest on the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes. Listen

The Angels withdrew from the process on Sunday night, in a very public manner, and say they are moving on to other players. Teixeira has made it clear that he wants to make a decision by Christmas.

Teixeira grew up in the Baltimore area, and the Orioles have long been viewed as a possible landing spot for him. But since the Orioles made a seven-year, $140 million offer, they have not revised that offer -- nor have they had active negotiations with Teixeira's agent, according to sources.

The Yankees made an initial offer to Teixeira, a proposal not close to the others, before they withdrew their bid, and they have maintained contact with the agent, Scott Boras. Three years ago, Carlos Beltran was a free agent, and near the end of his negotiations with the Mets, he offered to sign with the Yankees for a six-year, $96 million deal, or more than $20 million less than what the Mets had offered. The Yankees declined the proposal.

After Teixeira's negotiations with the Red Sox last week in the failed meeting between the team executives and the player, the Yankees are at least preparing for the possibility that they will be presented with a set of parameters by Teixeira that would bring him to New York. If the first baseman gives the Yankees contract figures that absolutely would result in him signing with the Yankees, they want to be ready to respond.

Still, it's possible that the Yankees have remained in the negotiations to nudge the Red Sox in the same way that the Red Sox loomed on the fringes of the CC Sabathia contract talks -- to keep their rival honest in the bidding.

The Nationals reportedly made an offer of eight years and $160 million to the first baseman, and while some within the organization have privately expressed skepticism about their chances of signing Teixeira, they are viewed as a formidable participant because of their owner's deep pockets. A lingering question throughout these negotiations has been whether Teixeira would be willing to play for the Nationals or the Orioles, teams that figure to struggle in the immediate future, as they rebuild their pitching staffs.

Another Boras client did take a lot more money with a non-contender once -- Alex Rodriguez, who signed a record-setting $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

If the Red Sox sign Teixeira, they are expected to go into spring training with a logjam of position players, at first and third base, and consider their options of what to do with veteran Mike Lowell at that time.

Teixeira is viewed by club officials as someone who could help restore the potency of the middle of the Boston order, which was diminished in 2008 by the trade of Manny Ramirez and the injury and struggles of David Ortiz.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Peter Gammons covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

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