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BASEBALL'S WINTER MEETINGS

Locals may get shut out

Sabathia's seven-year deal with the Yankees means Teixeira wants at least eight years, with Boras waiting to see market for Ramirez

December 11, 2008|BILL SHAIKIN | ON BASEBALL and Shaikin is a Times staff writer.

LAS VEGAS — Scott Boras, who holds the winter fate of the Dodgers and Angels in his hands, stepped off the elevator and into the hallway of the Bellagio Hotel. Reporters surrounded him by the dozens, so crowding the hallway that hotel security ordered baseball's most powerful agent to move along, and to take his entourage with him.

Boras found his way into a ballroom and onto a stage, saying a lot, revealing a little.

This much we know: Mark Teixeira could sign within days, with the Angels swallowing hard, extending an offer beyond their comfort zone and hoping for the best. Boras then will start pitching Manny Ramirez hard, to the losers in the Teixeira sweepstakes.

And then we'll all be able to move on, away from all the speculation and toward the season. The Angels will sign Teixeira, or they won't. The Dodgers will sign Ramirez, or they won't. Renew your season tickets, or don't.

Neither team will sign CC Sabathia, who agreed Wednesday to join the New York Yankees for seven years and $161 million, the richest contract ever for a pitcher. The Angels and Dodgers each checked in with Sabathia, shuddered at the numbers and wished him well.

Yet, as decision day draws near for Teixeira, the Angels appear willing to consider similar numbers for him.

Arte Moreno, the Angels' owner, flew here Tuesday and met privately with Boras. The Angels have maintained publicly that they have not made an offer to Teixeira.

"I think you'd better revisit that with the Angels," Boras said.

Said General Manager Tony Reagins: "Scott knows where we stand. We have a level of salary and years that we're comfortable with, and hopefully that will get it done. . . . If it doesn't, we'll have to move on."

The Sabathia deal did not set a standard for Teixeira -- Boras cited the $275-million contract of Alex Rodriguez as setting the standard for position players -- but it did set a floor.

If Sabathia signed for seven years, Teixeira is not interested in signing for fewer than eight.

That could mean, aside from the semantics of whether the Angels have discussed contract parameters or presented a formal offer, that the club has stretched its bid to eight years.

The Angels have been reluctant to extend an offer beyond seven years, and so have the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. But the Washington Nationals are believed to have launched the final bidding at eight years and $160 million.

"We've gone back and forth with the teams," Boras said. "We've been working pretty much around the clock for a couple days. We've had time to meet multiple times with multiple teams."

There is no reason to believe Teixeira would take significantly less to play elsewhere, even if the wretched Nationals are the high bidder.

In making his decision, Boras said, Teixeira is considering the value of each proposed deal, his family's comfort with each city -- he grew up in Maryland and prefers the East Coast -- and the chances of winning with each team, now and in the future.

Boras said a decision "is nothing I can say is imminent." Another source said he was told a decision could come within a week.

That would shift the focus to Ramirez. Boras selected his words precisely in discussing how many clubs might have interest in the slugger, since the current answer appears to be "not enough."

"I would estimate there are probably nine or 10 teams that need a No. 3 or No. 4 bat," Boras said. "Certainly, we've been contacted by a number of clubs."

The Dodgers are the only club that has publicly expressed interest in Ramirez, but for no more than two years. The Yankees, on something of a big-bat budget after signing Sabathia, could jump in too.

And, if the Angels miss out on Teixeira, they would consider Ramirez but also would not offer more than two years, according to a source familiar with the club's thinking.

The Angels also have stayed in touch with Juan Rivera, who would like to return to Anaheim if a full-time job is available. The Angels could sign Rivera at roughly one-fifth the cost, then use the savings to fortify their starting rotation and bullpen.

They had talked with Sabathia but decided their time would be better spent waiting to see if their money could be spent on Teixeira. The Dodgers had talked with Sabathia too, in what General Manager Ned Colletti described as "a couple" of telephone conversations between Sabathia and owner Frank McCourt.

"Kind of getting to know each other, I guess," Colletti said.

McCourt declined to discuss the conversations, said Dodgers spokesman Charles Steinberg, who directed questions to Colletti.

Sabathia had said he wanted to play for the Dodgers. Colletti said the Dodgers -- needing an ace in the rotation, in the clubhouse and in the community -- never offered Sabathia a contract.

"We weren't inclined to go six, seven years with the player," Colletti said. "We love the player. We were very interested in the person and the talent, but not in the duration.

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