One of the general managers involved in the Mark Teixeira negotiations was asked last night, "Are you still in it?" He answered, "I honestly don't know."
Evidently, Teixeira's final landing spot has become a mystery to some of the people involved. The talks between Scott Boras and five teams were fluid.
Complicating matters yesterday was that Boras, according to the Globe's Adam Kilgore, was traveling. Where? Great question.
Two GMs who were involved in the Teixeira talks both felt the Red Sox had a leg up.
"They have the highest offer on the table," said one of the GMs.
One of the GMs responded to Red Sox owner John Henry's comment to the Boston Herald that the Sox would not go 10 years on any player with, "No one's going there [10 years]."
"We all have limits," Henry said in an e-mail to the Associated Press yesterday. "Eight years is a very long time in baseball and everywhere else. Baseball as a whole has not yet been hit by the financial crisis, but it will. The degree is in question and won't be answered for a while."
But who knows?
The Yankees were willing to go two more years than anyone else on CC Sabathia, so why not on Teixeira?
One of the GMs concluded the Yankees were the fly in the ointment, but "Manny [Ramírez is] going to the Yankees."
Still, the Yankees were intriguing. As Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal so aptly put it in a column yesterday, the Yankees have the ability to really hurt the Red Sox by signing Teixeira because New York's Plan B is Ramírez, and there's no chance the Red Sox could entertain Plan B, thus leaving the Red Sox with an offense pretty much like the one that ended the season.
Which is why there was such a strong shift toward Boston as being the team that lands Teixeira. They almost can't afford not to sign him.
First off, if the Red Sox don't come off Henry's stand of not giving a player 10 years, they could up the ante on the average annual salary, which is apparently what has happened. At 10 a.m. yesterday, one GM involved in the talks indicated that if the talks had ended right then, the Red Sox would land Teixeira. At 6 p.m., that same GM said, "I still think it's the Red Sox."
If Teixeira went to the Red Sox, will the Yankees counter with Ramírez?
The Yankees would love the Ramírez drama, especially vs. the Red Sox at a new stadium and with YES ratings likely to go through the roof as the Sox-Yankees rivalry would be redefined. The New York Daily News has already reported the Yankees have a three-year, $66 million offer out to Manny. Angels manager Mike Scioscia has also been talking up Manny to a local radio station and said he's contacted Terry Francona about Manny's past problems with the team.
The Nationals were also big-time players for Teixeira, hoping to lure him to the capital with an eight-year, $160 million offer to be the centerpiece. It was widely thought the Nationals were still trying to compete with the Red Sox and Angels last night, but could lose the battle on two fronts - as a team that lost 100 games a year ago and the fact they might not be able to keep up with Boston's average annual offer to Teixeira.
The Orioles tried to use the hometown factor and what appears to be a seven-year offer in the $20 million per range, but that doesn't seem to be working.
One of the GMs indicated that to his knowledge Teixeira "wants to stay on the East Coast," where his family prefers to live, which means the Angels might need a miracle and/or the best offer to keep him.
If and when the Sox do obtain Teixeira, the next hard part would be dealing with the Mike Lowell fallout.
The Red Sox would likely spin Lowell to another team once the classy third baseman starts showing he's healthy in spring training, but the awkward nature of the situation is troubling. Lowell has two years remaining on his deal for $24 million. The late date in which he would be traded (March) is not a time when teams have a lot of money to spend, so it would appear Boston would have to eat some of it. Or they could persuade Lowell to stay and work into a rotation, especially if they feel David Ortiz's wrist isn't 100 percent.
Even with Teixeira, the Red Sox would need a fourth outfielder, given that J.D. Drew misses so many games and Jacoby Ellsbury has not yet established himself. There's also the fifth starter role, where the Sox have done their due diligence examining the medical records of John Smoltz and Brad Penny after they studied and passed on A.J. Burnett and Kerry Wood.
The Red Sox have "some" interest in Jake Peavy, but as of a few days ago the teams had not entertained any substantive trade talks as Padres GM Kevin Towers knew that Boston was not on Peavy's wish list. But now that talks with Atlanta and the Cubs have broken down, Towers needs a new team to deal with and the 27-year-old Peavy, according to his agent, Barry Axelrod, probably would OK a deal to Boston. But if there's a Teixeira splash, the Red Sox might not have the money to entertain it.
And they still have to sign a catcher or two.
The next 24 hours could provide some compelling drama.
Do the Red Sox keep their perceived lead in the Teixeira sweepstakes or does someone - the Yankees, Nationals, Angels - come by and trip them up at the 11th hour?
Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.