Although the Orioles have not raised their initial offer to free-agent first baseman and Maryland native Mark Teixeira, the possibility remains that they will, according to the club's top official.
"We have indicated before that we have flexibility," Orioles president Andy MacPhail said yesterday. "I don't think anyone expects [Teixeira's agent, Scott Boras] to lean over and accept the first proposal."
MacPhail does not provide the specifics of any free-agent proposal, but it is believed that last week the Orioles offered a seven-year contract worth $140 million to $150 million to Teixeira, 28, who grew up in Severna Park.
However, it shouldn't be characterized as a take-it-or-leave-it proposal, MacPhail said, because the negotiation process is continuing.
"If they came back to us and told us what it would take and we thought that it made sense for us, then, yes" the original offer could be altered, MacPhail said.
ESPN.com reported yesterday that the Orioles were likely out of the Teixeira sweepstakes unless the player was willing to offer a major hometown discount.
Although some within the Orioles' organization privately say they are not confident they'll land Teixeira, the most sought-after hitter in this year's market, MacPhail wouldn't characterize his club's chances or wave a white flag.
"Until we are told he is signing somewhere else, I don't think you can take yourself out of it," he said.
The ESPN.com report came a day after ESPN reported that Teixeira had an "enormous attraction" to the Orioles.
MacPhail said he is trying to stay away from the rumor roller coaster surrounding Teixeira.
"You hear so many different things from day to day," MacPhail said. "Yesterday we were the favorites, today you are out. You learn to ignore it and deal with the facts as they become available to you."
Teixeira told a television crew in November that he would like to be signed somewhere by Christmas, but MacPhail said he has not been given a deadline by anyone.
Boras was traveling and could not be reached for comment.
According to published reports, the Angels, Nationals and Red Sox have all offered eight-year deals. The Nationals and Angels are believed to be offering at least $160 million, while there is no confirmation on an exact dollar figure from the Red Sox. The New York Yankees are also considered in the mix.
Teixeira, a Mount St. Joseph graduate, is a Gold Glove defender and has batted .290 with 203 home runs in six seasons with the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves and Angels. He hit .308 with 33 homers and 121 RBIs in 2008.
Notes: : MacPhail said he has been informed that free-agent catcher Matt Treanor, whom the Orioles were pursuing, has agreed to a contract with the Detroit Tigers. Therefore, the Orioles are still looking for at least one major league catcher. Last year's backup catcher, Guillermo Quiroz, has accepted an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk and remains with the organization. ... The Orioles' primary catching target now might be former Oriole Gregg Zaun. They have also shown mild interest in ex-Oriole Paul Bako but have not yet contacted the agent for Henry Blanco. ... Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora wants to play for Venezuela in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, which begins in March. He was scheduled to play for his home country in the inaugural event in 2006 but withdrew. ... Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie said he would like to represent the U.S. in the WBC.