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Teixeira is Yankees' $180-million man

On heels of Sabathia and Burnett signings, New York agrees to an eight-year deal with the first baseman.

December 24, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna

The New York Yankees flexed their financial muscles -- again -- Tuesday, stunning the baseball world by snagging first baseman Mark Teixeira with an eight-year, $180-million deal, outbidding their archrivals, the Boston Red Sox, and the Angels in the process.

The agreement, which is pending a physical, pushed the Yankees' winter spending spree to $423.5 million, after the signing of left-hander CC Sabathia to a seven-year, $161-million deal and right-hander A.J. Burnett to a five-year, $82.5-million deal.

"Man, that's crazy," Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. "Those damn Yankees! They don't play around. When they're trying to win, they're trying to win. It's crazy. They just paid $27 million in luxury tax. That's like 27 dollars to them. They don't even care."

The Angels made Teixeira their top priority this winter, offering the slugger an eight-year, $160-million deal on Dec. 9 that owner Arte Moreno declined to sweeten. The Angels pulled their offer off the table Sunday.

According to a source who is familiar with negotiations but not authorized to speak about them on the record, Moreno grew frustrated that his offer essentially sat for two weeks, with no counteroffer from agent Scott Boras.

But another source said Tuesday that Boras had given the Angels one last chance to sign Teixeira on Monday, for eight years and about $176 million. The Angels declined, severing ties with the switch-hitter they acquired last July 29.

"I'm not going to get into a tit-for-tat in the paper," Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said. "But by their actions, we understood that we weren't going to sign the player. I would say that their actions dictated our reaction.

"We feel we made a fair offer, and it was not accepted. There are no sour grapes. We feel very comfortable with the decision that was made."

Teixeira's new deal, which includes a full no-trade clause but no opt-out clause and will pay him an average of $22.5 million a season, will give the Yankees, who are moving into their new $1.3-billion stadium next season, the four largest contracts in the sport -- Alex Rodriguez (10 years, $275 million), Derek Jeter (10 years, $189 million), Teixeira and Sabathia.

"At the rate the Yankees are going, I'm not sure anyone can compete with them," Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News. "Frankly, the sport might need a salary cap."

Said Hunter: "They're scary. Their rotation is one of the best, if not the best, in the game, and now look at their lineup. They have A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira, Hideki Matsui, Xavier Nady, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada is coming back [from injury], Nick Swisher . . . golly, that's a nice lineup."

And how about that American League East, which includes the Yankees, whose streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances ended in 2008; Tampa Bay, which reached the World Series in October; and Boston, winner of two of the last five World Series?

"That's going to be a dogfight, a pit-bull fight," Hunter said. "It's going to be pretty rough in that division. Tampa Bay has the confidence. Boston has won two championships. Toronto and Baltimore play you hard too. Good luck in that division."

The Rays, who have baseball's best collection of young talent and went from 96 losses in 2007 to 97 wins and the AL pennant in 2008, are not about to concede.

"I know we're supposed to be devastated by this, but we're not; for us to lament it does no good," Tampa Bay Manager Joe Maddon said. "Of course, Teixeira is a wonderful player -- the Yankees always go after the biggest and the best, and they've done themselves well this winter.

"But we're going to do it our way. It comes down to if you pitch well, you're going to stop good hitters. A lot of what we did last year was based on pitching and good defense. If we continue to do those things well, we'll be right there."

Huge payrolls have not guaranteed success for the Yankees, who last won the World Series in 2000.

"They've had the best lineup I've seen for seven years in a row and they haven't won it all," Hunter said. "They can still be beat. It will take dedication, hard work, and you've got to have heart. When you have that, you have a chance."

The Yankees were thought to be on the fringes of the Teixeira sweepstakes, reportedly making an initial offer weeks ago that was pulled off the table.

The Red Sox reportedly offered Teixeira an eight-year, $168-million deal, the Washington Nationals were reported to have bumped their initial eight-year, $160-million offer on Monday, and the Baltimore Orioles reportedly offered seven years, $150 million.

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman was quoted in Tuesday's editions of the New York Post saying, "We don't have any offers out there on anybody."

But the Yankees, who had $88.5 million in salary coming off the books and plenty to spend this winter, obviously made it clear to Boras how high they were willing to go on Teixeira, and when Boras came back to them this week, the Yankees pounced.

In Teixeira, the Yankees will have a 28-year-old who hit a combined .308 with 33 home runs and 121 runs batted in for the Atlanta Braves and Angels in 2008. He is also a two-time Gold Glove award winner.

Even with Teixeira, the Yankees expect their payroll to fall below $200 million, below their 2008 figure but far above what any other team will spend next season.

"They're the Beasts of the East," Hunter said. "The Evil Empire."

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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