Orioles still involved in Teixeira derby
Club hopes Baltimore native will select his hometown club
LAS VEGAS -- If the average fan thinks it's hard to keep abreast of the negotiations from afar, consider how it feels to be part of an ownership group. Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations, allowed a peek behind the curtain on Wednesday, when he related how much contact he's had with managing partner Peter Angelos regarding the Mark Teixeira derby.
"Of course he's involved," said MacPhail. "We wouldn't be one of the four clubs left standing if he wasn't a sincerely interested party."
Prior to that comment from MacPhail, there had been no indication how wide the field might be for Teixeira's services. Agent Scott Boras had said earlier in the day that "numerous" teams were still involved in the bidding, and he went as far to say that all of the potential suitors have made an offer and gone through a back-and-forth process.
The final four clubs are believed to be the Orioles, Angels, Nationals and Red Sox, and one source close to the negotiations confirmed that Baltimore has left a standing offer on the table for Teixeira. That offer reportedly stretches over seven years and $150 million, and MacPhail said that Angelos has been intimately involved in the process from afar.
"Suffice it to say I keep him apprised of where we are. I don't go anywhere [in terms of contract offers] without his prior approval," MacPhail said, describing the process behind closed doors. "We talk about it on a daily basis. I give him a read on some of the stuff you pick up either in the lobby or on the Internet or through sources about who the clubs are and what the numbers may end up. Some of that stuff, obviously, you have to filter out in terms of what may or may not be accurate."
That involvement isn't only typical, it seems to be imperative. Boras ticked through a number of concerns that Teixeira will evaluate, and nestled among them was a geographic consideration. Teixeira, a native of Baltimore suburb Severna Park, Md., has stressed that he wants to play close to home and for a team that can contend during the life of his contract.
"Certainly, part of Mark's decision is complex. Regional ties and family things are part of his consideration," said Boras. "Obviously, there's the club, the club's ability to win and win long-term, commitment by the owners to the franchise being successful, where they play, the city they're in, those kinds of things. He's played in both leagues, so he's had an opportunity to make an analysis of what's best for he and his family and, of course, the economics, too."
"A lot of it is going to depend on what's most important to the player," added MacPhail, speaking in the abstract. "If winning tomorrow is the most important thing to the player, we're handicapped."
MacPhail said that the Orioles haven't attached a deadline to their offer and that the entire negotiation is a work in progress, but he also said that the Boras camp knows that he has limited resources and other places to spend his money. Baltimore is interested in Teixeira, but it doesn't want to let it stop the organization from attacking some of its other needs.
And in this case, the money isn't really the issue as much as the time element. Baltimore is still interested in adding a catcher and two starting pitchers, and MacPhail doesn't want one major deal to monopolize his attention. At the same time, he said that he's had a long history with lucrative deals and that he won't back down because of dollars alone.
"I've been involved with the highest contracts in the game in their time on a couple different occasions -- [Frank] Viola, [Kirby] Puckett, [Sammy] Sosa was a big number, [Mark] Prior for an amateur player," said MacPhail, who often characterizes himself as deliberate and methodical. "For a conservative guy like me, you'd be surprised how many big ones I've been in. At the same time, there are a lot of ones where you come to a point and you think, 'No mas.'"
The Orioles continue to be interested in Japanese free agents Koji Uehara and Kenshin Kawakami, and recent reports have linked them to catcher Gregg Zaun. The veteran even came out and admitted that he has interest in Baltimore, which has employed his uncle, 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey, in a wide variety of capacities.
One source indicated that the Orioles aren't willing to go beyond three guaranteed years for right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett, a stance that could make it hard to get him to sign. MacPhail indicated that he's had several conversations with various teams and agents regarding starting pitchers, but he admitted that he's not sure where he really stands.
"We have an idea of what we think we have to spend," MacPhail said. "We have an idea of what kind of pitchers might be in that sphere. We've got several of them over here [and] we've talked to all of their people. We've kind of told them where we are, what we have [and] what we're thinking about. The first one moves to us, we'll move to them. They're all, as you can imagine, 'Thanks for the info,' and then they'll go out and see what else is around, whether it be a club or an agent."
The Orioles appear unlikely to select anybody in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, although that could change if someone unexpected falls to their slot.
Baltimore has already agreed to terms with shortstop Cesar Izturis and traded catcher Ramon Hernandez for Ryan Freel and two prospects at the Winter Meetings, but there's still quite a bit of work to do before Spring Training. MacPhail, when asked if he already considers the Meetings a success, preached patience in terms of forming perspective.
"You don't really know that for a while," MacPhail said. "If Teixeira went and signed with some team tomorrow, it would be hard to walk out of here saying it was a success. You might be pleased that you came here and did some of the things you wanted to do, but I wouldn't put any categories on it. And that's not to say he has to sign with us for the Meetings to be a success."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.