LAS VEGAS - The Orioles have apparently made it to the final four of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, though it remains to be seen whether they'll be able to offer enough money to lure the free-agent slugging first baseman back home.
However, the club has made a strong bid, offering a seven-year contract for between $140 million and $150 million, one industry source said.
With the New York Yankees' signing of ace CC Sabathia early on Day 3 of baseball's winter meetings, the chase of Teixeira, who grew up in Severna Park, heated up and appears to be down to the Orioles, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox.
All four teams have made lucrative, long-term offers, with Orioles president Andy MacPhail extending his bid to agent Scott Boras in a meeting late Tuesday night. MacPhail declined to divulge specifics of the offer.
"We are involved in the process," MacPhail said. "Where it takes us, we don't know."
Boras said he had gone back and forth and made counteroffers to the interested teams, and the speculation around the lobby at the Bellagio Hotel was the agent had at least eight-year offers in hand from all the interested parties. The Washington Post reported the Nationals made an eight-year, $160 million bid to Boras, and the Angels reportedly had made a similar offer.
However, as of last night, the Orioles hadn't gone as far as eight guaranteed years, according to an industry source. MacPhail said he has been keeping owner Peter Angelos abreast of the negotiations. Angelos has been long enamored of the first baseman, but, according to the source, he is against offering Teixeira a 10-year, $200 million contract, which is what the player and his agent had originally sought.
"Suffice to say, I keep him apprised of where we are," MacPhail said. "I don't go anywhere without his prior approval. We talk about it on a daily basis. Of course, he's involved. We wouldn't be one of the four clubs left standing if he wasn't a sincerely interested party."
Boras created quite a scene at the posh hotel when he emerged from the elevators about 4:15 p.m. Pacific time and was engulfed by a pack of reporters. The crowd grew so big that security officials from the hotel ordered the group interview moved elsewhere.
Boras described Teixeira's decision as "complex," saying it depended on multiple factors, including a potential desire to play closer to his hometown in either Baltimore or Washington.
"There's regional ties. Certainly family is going to be part of his consideration," Boras said. "The club's ability to win long-term, commitment by the owners, long-term, to the franchise being successful. Where they play, the city they're in. He's played in both leagues. He has an opportunity to make an analysis of what's best for he and his family. And, of course, the economics."
Boras also was unlikely to give a time frame for Teixeira's signing, even though the first baseman, 28, has said he wanted to know where he was going to be by Christmas.
"We've been working around the clock," Boras said. "We've certainly had time to meet multiple times with multiple teams. And I've been through these things before. They could get done in a short period of time. They could certainly go beyond the time frame of these meetings, as well. There are things that could occur that could allow that to happen. I can't say at this time that we're that close to a deal."
MacPhail said there is no deadline on his offer, but the club certainly would like to know Teixeira's plans sooner rather than later.
"I don't think it's so much bidding," MacPhail said. "You just don't want to get a sizable chunk of what you can do so tied up in one deal that other ones slip by. That's the only thing that we have to factor in. That's the only restraint. I've never been a huge deadline guy, but I do think they're aware that we don't want to have nothing happen and lose an opportunity to have something else slide by."
MacPhail acknowledged that the Orioles are "handicapped" if the most important factor for Teixeira was winning immediately.