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Red Sox fall out of Teixeira talks

Henry: 'We are not going to be a factor'

By Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / December 19, 2008
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Red Sox owner John Henry issued a stunning proclamation late last night regarding the team's pursuit of free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, all but ruling out Boston's chance to land the prize hitter of baseball's offseason.

"We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him," Henry said in an e-mail time-stamped 10:45 p.m. "After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."

The statement came as shocking news given how close the Sox and Teixeira appeared to be to a deal. On Tuesday, a general manager in the hunt for Teixeira declared the Red Sox the favorite. Channel 5's Mike Lynch reported yesterday that Sox general manager Theo Epstein, along with Henry and Larry Lucchino, had flown to Dallas to meet with Scott Boras, Teixeira's agent. Boras was in Dallas last night, staying in a hotel by the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Teixeira has a home in Texas.

The report indicated the Red Sox were closing in on landing Teixeira with a contract worth $184 million over eight years, which would have been the richest contract signed by a Red Sox player.

Messages left with Boras last night were not returned.

The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Nationals are also vying for Teixeira, the most coveted free agent hitter available. The 28-year-old switch-hitter from Severna Park, Md., possesses everything on the Sox-bedrock checklist: a ferocious bat, a slick glove, a pristine image, even a lights-out smile.

Now, though, Henry has seemingly eliminated the Red Sox from contention - although posturing is not out of the question - potentially the second time the team just missed out on Teixeira.

The Sox nearly had Teixeira a decade ago, drafting him out of Mount St. Joseph High in Baltimore, but a deal could not be reached. Teixeira attended Georgia Tech and won the Dick Howser Trophy, college baseball's Heisman.

Ten years later, the Sox tried to land him again as Epstein was reportedly willing to commit more money to one player than any other in his six years as GM. The reported figures far surpassed the five-year, $70 million contract J.D. Drew signed two years ago. Manny Ramirez signed the biggest contract in club history, an eight-year pact worth $160 million after the 2000 season.

The son of John, a former Navy pilot, and Margy, a cancer survivor, Teixeira spent his first five seasons with the Texas Rangers, who traded him to the Atlanta Braves midway through 2007. The Angels acquired him from Atlanta just before last season's trade deadline.

At each step, Teixeira established himself as one of baseball's best players. He won two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. He made the All-Star Game in 2005, the year he led the majors in total bases.

Teixeira's patient, power-hitting style embodies the approach embraced by the Sabermetric-mindful Sox organization. He slugs and gets on base. Teixeira hit .308 with 33 home runs and 121 RBIs, and 97 walks last season. His .550 slugging percentage since 2005 is 10th in the majors over that span.

His stock rose most sharply after he joined Los Angeles last season. In the season's final two months, Teixeira hit .358 with a 1.081 on-base plus slugging percentage. He finished the season by hitting .467 against the Sox in the four-game American League Division Series.

The Red Sox met face to face with Teixeira last night, and the result might have been even more frustrating.

Nick Cafardo of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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