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Angels retract Teixeira offer

First baseman, a free agent, appears to want more money than team owner Moreno is willing to pay.

December 22, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna

And starting at first base for your 2009 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim . . . Kendry Morales?

Get used to it, Angels fans. Mark Teixeira is not coming back.

The Angels withdrew their eight-year offer -- believed to be for $160 million -- to Teixeira on Sunday afternoon, and team spokesman Tim Mead said the Angels will no longer pursue the free-agent first baseman.

When pressed on whether this was a negotiating ploy, whether the Angels were playing hardball with agent Scott Boras, Mead, the team's vice president of communications, said, "We're out."

General Manager Tony Reagins did not return calls Sunday evening. In an e-mail to selected media outlets, Boras wrote: "Mark Teixeira enjoyed his time with the Angels and was an integral part of their success last season. His interest in returning to the club has been sincere, real and continues to be one of his earnest priorities throughout this off-season."

The Angels are the second team in three days to pull out of negotiations with Teixeira, following Boston owner John Henry's declaration late Thursday that "we are not going to be a factor."

The Red Sox, who met with Boras and the slugger at Teixeira's Dallas-area home Thursday night, offered Teixeira an eight-year deal for about $170 million.

But unlike the Angels, whose intentions were made quite clear by Mead, the Red Sox are still considered the front-runners to land Teixeira, who many believe wants to play for a contending team on the East Coast.

The Washington Nationals, who reportedly offered eight years and $160 million, and the Baltimore Orioles, who reportedly offered seven years and about $150 million, remain involved in the bidding.

There have been conflicting reports about the New York Yankees' level of interest in Teixeira, whom the Angels acquired from the Atlanta Braves on July 29 and was the team's top priority this winter.

Boras is reportedly seeking an eight-year deal for at least $180 million, and a source familiar with the Angels' thinking maintained all last week that owner Arte Moreno had no plans to sweeten his offer, which was extended at the winter meetings in Las Vegas.

"Arte is sticking to his guns on this one," the source said.

The Angels will receive a first-round draft pick and a compensation pick between the first and second rounds in June as compensation for losing Teixeira, but he will be virtually impossible to replace next season.

When the Angels traded promising young first baseman Casey Kotchman and double-A pitcher Stephen Marek to the Braves for Teixeira, they thought they had finally ended their three-year search for that elusive big bat to complement slugger Vladimir Guerrero.

Though they led the American League West by 11 games at the time of the trade, the Angels also thought Teixeira was the missing piece that would propel them to their first World Series title since 2002.

The Angels were eliminated by Boston in a four-game division series, but Teixeira shined, batting .467 with seven hits -- all singles -- four walks and one run batted in.

In 54 regular-season games with the Angels, the 28-year-old switch-hitter batted .358 with a .449 on-base percentage, 13 homers and 43 RBIs, and the two-time Gold Glove Award winner's defense was superb.

Teixeira provided much-needed patience in a lineup full of free swingers, and his ability to work counts and lay off pitches just outside of the strike zone seemed to rub off on other players, who became more selective at the plate.

Morales, the Cuban switch-hitter and likely replacement for Teixeira, will have big spikes to fill, and the 25-year-old is getting a head start in the Dominican Winter League, where he is batting .411 with 28 RBIs in 24 games.

Worth remembering is a summer quote from Moreno, who said the primary reason the Angels set aside their aversion to rental players to acquire Teixeira was that if they didn't re-sign the superstar, they would be "comfortable" with Morales at first base.

The Angels, who signed outfielder Juan Rivera to a three-year, $12.75-million deal Friday, could also look to bolster their offense by pursuing a free-agent outfielder such as Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, or, possibly, Manny Ramirez.

Or, they could look to trade for a hitter such as Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, Garrett Atkins or Joey Votto, a 25-year-old first baseman who batted .297 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs for Cincinnati in 2008.

They will probably use some of the money budgeted for Teixeira to sign closer Brian Fuentes, who is seeking a three-year, $30-million deal and has said that the Angels are his first choice.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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