12/23/08 9:30 PM EST
Red Sox lose out to rivals on Teixeira
One-time leaders for slugger watch Yankees snag him away
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Over the course of the past few weeks, the Red Sox were considered the favorites to win the Teixeira free-agent sweepstakes, while the Yankees were considered no more than bystanders after working hard to land pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.
That all took a turn on Tuesday afternoon, when the Yankees swooped in and added the switch-hitting first baseman to their stable of prized free-agent acquisitions with what is believed to be an eight-year, $180 million agreement.
With Teixeira, the Red Sox would have possessed an undoubtedly potent lineup that might have had Jason Bay batting seventh. The new first baseman would have essentially replaced Manny Ramirez as a powerful threat capable of providing protection for David Ortiz. By losing out in the bidding for Teixeira, the Red Sox lost their power source for the future. With Ortiz and Mike Lowell aging and recovering from injuries that hampered them last year, there's reason to wonder how much longer Boston's designated hitter and third baseman can serve as reliable offensive contributors.
Still the Teixeira development didn't have much of an effect on reigning American League Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia, who views the Red Sox's roster as being similar to those utilized during the past two seasons.
"We still have a team that is very similar to the ones we've had the past two years," Pedroia said. "We won the World Series two seasons ago and came within one win of playing in another one this year. We can't worry about what other teams are doing."
Reports have indicated that the Red Sox provided Teixeira with an eight-year, $170 million offer on Thursday. This unaccepted offer was the one that prompted team owner John Henry to say, "It's clear we're not going to be a factor."
While many considered this to simply be a negotiating ploy against agent Scott Boras, Henry and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein were well aware of the possibility that the Yankees could come in at any moment and lure Teixeira to New York.
While signing Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett this month, the Yankees have committed $423.5 million in salary and further proven to Henry and the Red Sox that they have the resources and willingness to aggressively pursue the game's top players on an annual basis.
"From the moment we arrived in Boston in late 2001, we saw it as a monumental challenge," Henry said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "We sought to reduce the financial gap and succeeded, to a degree. Now, with a new stadium filled with revenue opportunities, they have leaped away from us again. So we have to be even more careful in deploying our resources."
Something similar happened nearly three years ago to the day, when Johnny Damon, another Boras client, signed a four-year deal with the Yankees after the Red Sox refused to provide him more than a three-year contract. Before that late-December night, the Yankees hadn't really been linked to Damon.
Entering Tuesday, the Red Sox and Nationals were considered the favorites to land Teixeira. The Angels removed themselves from negotiations on Sunday, and the Orioles were still considered a long shot.
As for the Yankees, they were simply considered the team that could certainly provide this kind of surprise.
While there might have been some initial shock that the Yankees could get something done so quickly, there is reason to argue they needed Teixeira much more than the Red Sox did.
With shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez serving as their only legitimate offensive superstars, the Yankees needed to add some power to their lineup. The Red Sox still have a lineup that could include Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Ortiz, Bay, J.D. Drew and Lowell, who is hoping to regain all of his strength while returning from a surgical procedure on his right hip in October.
Looking toward the future, the Yankees also had more of a need to lock in Teixeira at first base for most of the next decade.
In Lars Anderson, who has played 41 games above the Class A level, the Red Sox have a 21-year-old player whom many consider to be the best first-base prospect in Minor League baseball.
And in Michael Almanzar, the Sox have a highly regarded 18-year-old corner-infield prospect who could be ready for the Majors by the start of the 2012 season.
In other words, losing out on Teixeira wasn't necessarily crushing for the Red Sox. But losing him to the Yankees was something nobody in Red Sox Nation wanted to experience.
While Teixeira's acquisition would have created a buzz among Red Sox players, the excitement would have been tempered by the fact that such a move might have signaled the end of Lowell's days in Boston.
With Teixeira bringing his Gold Glove defensive skills to first base, Youkilis would have likely shifted to third base and forced the Red Sox to attempt to trade Lowell, whom many consider to be one of the Boston clubhouse's most popular figures.
"I'm definitely excited to have Mike around," Pedroia said. "He's a great player and a great person that I've gotten to know over the past couple of years. He's a true professional. He cares about one thing, and that's winning. Nobody wanted to see him leave."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.