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Ten years after

Posted by Maureen Mullen December 18, 2008 05:56 AM

Anyone who’s ever cast a line has a story about the one that got away. General managers are no different than fishermen.

If things had turned out differently in the 1998 draft, Mark Teixeira, one of this off-season’s prize free agents, could have been a member of the Red Sox.

“The Orioles drafted [pitcher Mike] Mussina in like the [11th round in 1987],” said former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette. “He was from Pennsylvania. He had a scholarship to go to Stanford, and the Orioles drafted him in the hope that they might offer him top money and sign him. And that’s kind of the premise that we took when we approached Mark and his family.

“We knew he had a good offer to go to college to Georgia Tech. But we liked his ability a lot and we thought we’d take a crack at him down in the draft and then offer him money comparable to a first-round [pick] and then see if we could sign him. But it didn’t work out. … So, he went to Georgia Tech, got a college education, and got more money [in 2001 as a first-round pick of Texas].”

Duquette selected Teixeira — a projected first-rounder — in the ninth round of the 1998 draft, 265th overall. The Sox used their first pick for shortstop Adam Everett. Duquette offered Teixeira a $1.5 million signing bonus. Pat Burrell, whom the Sox had drafted out of high school three years earlier, was the No. 1 overall choice, receiving a $3.15 million bonus from the Phillies. No. 2 pick Mark Mulder received a $3.2 million bonus from the A’s.

“That [$1.5 million] was a good offer, and we thought we might sign him,” Duquette said. “Until Scott Boras got involved as his adviser, we thought we had a deal with Mark and his dad. We thought we had an understanding. But it didn’t play out that way. So, anyway, we probably should have given him more money.”

Teixeira saw it differently. In September he told the Globe’s Nick Cafardo: “I got to go to college and have the three best years of my life. And I can’t complain on how my career has turned out. I was upset about it for a couple of weeks, but then I started getting into college, and once I stepped on the campus of Georgia Tech, I knew it was meant to be.

“[The Red Sox] treated us very poorly. It’s something I tell high school kids who are going to be drafted, that you’ve got to be ready for the business. Unfortunately, that’s the way we were treated after I got drafted, and that’s the reason I didn’t sign with the Red Sox. We never sought or asked for an apology, but … it was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

In 2006 he told Baseball America, “The Red Sox told everybody that I wouldn’t sign, and when it got to a late enough round they said, ‘Let’s take a flier on him.’ So they spoiled me for everyone else.”

Those statements confound Duquette.

“No, that’s not true, that’s not true,” Duquette said. “There was a good opportunity for him at Georgia Tech and clubs knew that he might pursue that. And that ended up being the case. …

“When those players start their career, I always approach it like this isn’t the last contract you’re going to sign, you know, and if you’re ready to go out and try pro ball, let’s give it a shot, and if you’re not ready, then don’t do it now. If you feel like you’ve got enough ability, you’ll get some opportunities some other time.”

Asked if there were any other negotiations he would have liked mulligans on during his eight-year tenure with the Sox, Duquette replied, “We had two good power hitters that are free agents this year under draft out of high school. Burrell we drafted in the [43rd] round out of high school in California [in 1995], and we tried to sign him, and we weren’t successful in signing him. … And Teixiera. Both those guys went on to be middle-of-the-lineup hitters on successful major league ballclubs. So, I’d like to have seen us sign both those guys out of high school. They would have gotten to the big leagues quickly and they’re the kind of players Red Sox fans would enjoy.”

Now, more than 10 years later, the Sox are again in pursuit of Teixeira. “I just think the kid made the right career choices,” Duquette said. “They seem to be working out for him.”

Maureen Mullen covers the Red Sox for OT and can be reached at mmullen@globe.com

11 comments so far...
  1. Once again Dan Duquette is painted in a bad light because he "messed up the Texeira negotiation ten years ago." Just like he didn't resign old Mr. "in the twilight of his career." Now we know that Clemens' late career revival was mostly due to the magic of chemistry, Duquette's take seems to have been much like Theo's refusal to give supersized contracts to Pedro, Damon, etc. Thanks for putting out a more complete picture of the 1998 Texeira situation. Gee, I wonder if Texeira & Boras would refuse $200 mil this off season from the Sox because their old GM "treated me badly."

    Posted by rocksberry December 18, 08 10:28 AM
  1. Sure sounds like bad blood to me. From an earlier account, Wayne Britton's treatment of the Teixeiras was reminiscent of the way a Yankee scout by the name of Garland treated the Yastrzemski family back in the late 1950's. Yaz ultimately opted to attend Notre Dame.

    Here's hoping Mark lets bygones be bygones and takes the Sox 8-year, $200M (?) offer. (For that amount of jack from a perennial contender, he D*** well ought to.)

    BTW, Teixeira was a Dean's List student at Tech, with a 3.4 GPA as a Management Science major.

    Posted by RamblinWreck77 December 18, 08 10:32 AM
  1. Time for Red Sox to put the wraps on Tex then sign Derek Lowe and finally work out a deal for Jake Peavy. Bring on the Yanks!!!

    Posted by Richard Shamock December 18, 08 12:24 PM
  1. Dan Duquette is a genius.

    Posted by rob deer December 18, 08 01:11 PM
  1. Sounds like a communication breakdown and two people seeing the same events from completely different perspectives. I'm not sure how the Sox could have "spoiled" Texiera for everyone else, though? Are all the other clubs so naive they would base all their selections on what the Red Sox say about a player? Seems like his option to go to GA Tech, would have been common knowledge among other teams. And, if so, why would teams risk a high draft choice if there was a very good chance he would go to college anyway? I think Boras has helped to "show him money" , so Texiera is not going to lay the blame where it probably belongs, with Boras.

    Posted by pete22 December 18, 08 02:28 PM
  1. This is a story? I thought everyone knew this. For all you worry-warts out there, I don't think the past has any bearing on now. Even Tex (and that scum-sucking leech, aka Scott Boras) knows that this is a very different Red Sox ballclub than the one from 10 years ago.

    Posted by denver_soxfan December 18, 08 02:38 PM
  1. Sounds like Tex is a big baby, oh no they offered me 1.5 million and mess things up for everyone else, boo hoo. I pray they do not get this kid, he is no better than Youk. While they are at it they should let Tek take a walk as well, the kid hit .230 and turned down 11 million for next season, please what world do these GA Tech kids live in. Sox don't need them nor shoul they want either of them. I will never get over watching Tek cry about maybe it being his last game in Boston , and basically doing nothing in the playoffs, then he turns down arbitration, what a fraud. Sox have a great minors, can bridge the gap at catcher easy, and Lowell will give you 80 of what Tex will.

    Posted by Mike December 18, 08 05:01 PM
  1. While we need a middle of the lineup bat, this guys is not worth the money he looks to be getting ... BUT its the Red Sox and like the Yankees they can pay extra so it will work out well in that we get a solid player and hoepfully with the farm system continue to keep some payroll flexibility ... I say keep Masterson and pack up Bucholtz and Bowden for a frontline starter ... Peavy? maybe

    Posted by Patrick December 18, 08 07:52 PM
  1. Ha Ha Ha, now Tex is an overpriced underachiever?? Red Sox Nation is getting a reality check in the form of C.C., A.J. and Tex, get ready, because the fun will start pretty soon! Instead of all the moaning and crying, ask the Boston front office to spend all the money the overcharge you fanatics at Fenway back into free agents, you guys have been brain-washed since Frazee sold us The Babe, quit the complaining and bring out the check book.

    Posted by Oscar December 23, 08 07:23 PM
  1. There is Lowe and Peavy
    beat em with pitching ~
    let Varitek go
    get a catcher

    Posted by John McDermott December 24, 08 09:34 AM
  1. So Duke offers an unproven kid $1.5 million and Teix thinks he needs an apology: For what? Just a few years before, Duke got Nomar for about 8ook !
    Why didn't anybody else take him, prior to the 9th round? How did Duquette spoil his chances? He's full of crap.

    Posted by Mark James December 25, 08 12:08 AM
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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
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