Nationals extend offer to Teixeira

LAS VEGAS – The Washington Nationals have stepped boldly into the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, making an offer to the free agent first baseman for more than seven years and $150 million, a highly placed baseball source said Wednesday morning.

With the New York Yankees occupied by signing CC Sabathia to a record $161 million deal, the Nationals quietly became a player in the competition to sign the top free-agent hitter. Although the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles are also in hot pursuit of Teixeira, there is reason to believe the 28-year-old slugger would consider the Nationals’ offer.

The quiet, businesslike Teixeira grew up in Severna Park, Md., and attended high school in Baltimore. It is unclear how much stock he puts in playing for a team within driving distance of his hometown – especially when that team is struggling to develop a winning tradition. The Nationals were 59-102 in 2008, finishing 32½ games back and in last place in the National League East.

The Orioles also stepped up their interest Wednesday, speaking to agent Scott Boras about a deal similar to the one extended by the Nationals.

If Teixeira does prefer the East Coast, it could put the Angels at a disadvantage, even though they have made their top priority re-signing the player who batted .358 in 54 games for them last season and provided lineup protection for Vladimir Guerrero.

Angels owner Arte Moreno left the winter meetings after meeting with Boras, but a source said the Angels did not make an offer on Teixeira. The Red Sox appear to be holding back for now as well, and a another source said Boston doesn’t believe a deal for Teixeira will be finalized this week.

Certainly, it doesn’t appear the Nationals’ offer will be the last, or highest, to Teixeira. Boras is seeking a 10-year, $200 million deal and could get it. Teixeira will get at least an eight-year contract, and from a team with a strong chance to win immediately.

Jose Mota is a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send Jose a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008