It seems the Red Sox were quite serious and determined in their pursuit of free agent Mark Teixeira. After all, the top brass flew to Texas to meet with the highly prized first baseman.
When John Henry, Larry Luchino, and Theo Epstein arrive in mass to present a reported eight-year, $184 million offer ($23 million annually), it's clear that they are sincere and they mean business. But, apparently, it was not the highest bid.
It seems there was a high stakes of chicken going on between the Red Sox brass and the Teixeira/Boras camp. And the Red Sox blinked. It must have caught Teixeira off guard. I can't help but wonder if he is, or will be, angry with Boras. Taking the Red Sox out of any negotiation certainly doesn't help a player's bargaining leverage.
In the end, what's the difference between $180 million and $190 million? Once you reach a certain level of wealth, doesn't a few million just cease to matter? Not that I would know, but I can't imagine it affects the size of the house you live in, the boat you cruise around on, or the fleet of cars you drive.
A-Rod should have been Teixeira's example; you can take the highest offer from a bad team (Texas) and still end up miserable. No one likes continually losing games; the season loses all significance very quickly. For both the Orioles and Nationals -- the Red Sox primary bidding competitors -- the 2009 season is likely already over. The Nats lost a league-worst 102 games last season. The O's haven't had a winning season in 12 years. Wouldn't $23 million per year with the Red Sox be superior to even $25 million per with either of those two teams?
The reality is, Boras doesn't have to play for a bad team and suffer through years of losing seasons. Naturally, he wants his client to go to the highest bidder since he directly benefits as a result. That seems like a conflict of interest, in my view.
When asked what Teixeira was looking for in a team, Boras had this to say:
"The club's ability to win and win in the 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's had an opportunity to make an analysis of what's best for he and his family. And, of course, the economics too."
It all sounds like so much bullshit now -- except for the part about the "economics."
However, this may not yet be over for the Sox and Teixeira. At least Teixeira got the straight talk from the Sox brass, without Boras as the filter. They were clearly and accurately represented and Teixeira surely knows how much they admire and covet him.
A-Rod was said to be furious with Boras for his horrible advice a year ago. He ended up going back to the Yankees and negotiating his own deal with his tail between his legs. And Gary Sheffield had a rather contentious parting with Boras when he felt that he was poorly represented, as well.
I don't know if that will happen again this time, but I think that Boras has once again lost some of his remaining luster. Other players are watching, and they will remember this no matter how it eventually turns out.