Mark Teixeira won’t be signing with the Red Sox after all. In fact, what some might consider the worst-case scenario has suddenly become a stunning reality — the slugging first baseman has decided to join the Red Sox’ fiercest rival, the New York Yankees.
The Globe’s Adam Kilgore and Nick Cafardo have confirmed reports that Teixeira, a remarkably consistent 28-year-old switch-hitter who has hit 203 home runs in six seasons in the majors, has reached an agreement today to join the Yankees. SI.com’s Jon Heyman and ESPN’s Buster Olney simultaneously broke the news earlier the player and the club had come to terms on an eight-year, $180 million deal, with Heyman also reporting that Teixeira received a full no-trade provision.
The Red Sox were considered by many to be the front-runner for Teixeira, with the Washington Nationals also reportedly the other finalist. But the Yankees, who were believed to be on the periphery while other teams, including the Baltimore Orioles, pursued Teixeira, made their move today, bringing to an end what seemed like a drawn-out process by Boras and the player.
The Red Sox met with Teixeira late last week at the player’s Dallas-area home, and reportedly made an offer for eight years and approximately $170 million. Red Sox owner John Henry sent an e-mail to reporters after the meeting with Teixeira and his agent, Scott Boras, saying that it seemed the Red Sox were not “going to be a factor” in the hunt for Teixeira. But the offer remained on the table and the Red Sox were still considered serious suitors, even the favorites, as recently as this afternoon. The Herald’s Sean McAdam reported late this afternoon that the Red Sox slightly upped their offer yesterday, but after being stonewalled in their attempts to get a straight answer from Boras last night and this morning, they tried to set a hard deadline for the deal to be accepted after becoming convinced that their offer was being shopped elsewhere, possibly to the Yankees.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, the Yankees became more interested in Teixeira only after the Red Sox couldn’t close the deal on their visit and the Los Angeles Angels announced Sunday night that they would no longer attempt to re-sign him. Wrote the Daily News’s Bill Madden: “It was then learned that Teixeira had favored the Yankees all along and according to sources he conveyed that to them this week.” Madden also reported that Teixeira received a $5 million signing bonus, bringing the contract’s full value to $185 million.
Teixeira’s deal raises the Yankees’ offseason spending spree to $423.5 million. Just last Thursday, the Yankees completed agreements with two highly prized pitchers, giving CC Sabathia a $161 million, seven-year contract and A.J. Burnett an $82.5 million, five-year deal.
Preparing to move into their pricey new ballpark, the Yankees will hold the four largest contracts in the sport as they try to win the World Series for the first time since 2000. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez has baseball’s highest deal at $275 million over 10 years, and shortstop Derek Jeter is second at $189 million over 10 years.
Teixeira’s agreement came just one day after the Yankees received a $26.9 million luxury tax bill for 2008, when their streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances ended. But with the revenue from their new stadium, where tickets are priced at up to $2,500 per game, their appetite for free agents wasn’t diminished.
Neither the Orioles nor Nationals, two teams close to Teixeira’s hometown of Severna Park, Md., could lure the free agent prize.
“We would have loved to have had the player, who appealed to us because of the special circumstances of where he’s from and where we are. We diverted from our plan to try to get him,” said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. “But at the end of the day, it was just too much to pay for one player. It would handicap our ability to go forward.”
The Washington Nationals also held talks. General manager Jim Bowden said his team’s owners “demonstrated their commitment to win, when they stepped up in negotiations … at the highest level.”
“We are disappointed we weren’t able to sign him,” Bowden wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press, “and will now turn our attention to several other opportunities to improve our major league club this offseason.”
It is not the first time in recent seasons that the Yankees have swooped in and acquired a player on the Red Sox’ radar. Following the 2003 season, the Rangers agreed to trade superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox, but the deal was vetoed by the Players Association because it called for a voluntary reduction in salary. As the deal stalled, the Yankees moved in and acquired him for a package that included second baseman Alfonso Soriano on Feb. 13, 2004.
In December 2005, the Yankees signed popular Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon to a 4-year, $52 million contract after Boston management, skeptical about Boras’s claims that he had a lengthier offer in hand, refused to offer a deal longer than three years. Rodriguez, Damon, Teixeira were all represented by Boras at the time of their respective negotiations.
Teixeira batted .308 with 33 homers and 112 RBIs while splitting the 2008 season between the Atlanta Braves and the Angels.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.