Teixeira to Become Somebody's Christmas Gift?

The baseball world is buzzing with word that free agent first baseman Mark Teixiera will be announcing his team for 2009 and beyond at some point on Tuesday afternoon. The most passionate remaining bidders appear to be the Red Sox and Nationals, but the Yankees loom just below the surface as a potential surprise winner of his services.

Both Jon Heyman of SI.com and the ESPN team of Buster Olney and Peter Gammons believe that a situation may arise where Teixeira and Scott Boras come to them with an offer before he signs somewhere else. Heyman goes as far as saying the Yankees are talking seriously with Boras. That's what happened when Carlos Beltran, another Boras client, was a free agent, but the Yankees passed on signing him for steep discount on what he wound up making with the Mets.

That would be a pretty stark change from what happened with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. The Yankees made the pursuit of those pitchers a lost cause for other teams by offering packages beyond what anyone else could offer. There were a lot of doubts about how much either man, especially Sabathia, wanted to be a Yankee, but the money made it impossible for them to go anywhere else.

Here's another thought. If Teixeira does come to the Yankees, why not make an offer for three years and bigger annual money than the Red Sox or Nationals are offering? Boras loves when his players become free agents, and Teixeira would hit the market again before he turns 32. It would mimic the opt-out that Boras negotiated for Alex Rodriguez in Texas, but would escape any of the messiness that decision causes since the Yankees would be in the same boat as every other team in the league.

For the Yankees, it would be a short-term investment to carry them while they continue to stock their own system. The three years would also overlap with Sabathia's opt-out, which would give them some payroll flexibility down the road while keeping them highly competitive in the short term. It's better than spending money on Andy Pettitte or some other middle-ground starter, and far better than taking the volitile Manny Ramirez for a similar period of time.

It's all rumor and conjecture at this point, but, for once, taking a stealth approach may land the Yankees a big fish.

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