So when does a childhood dream become more like a lead-weighted negotiating tool?
When you’re Mark Teixeira and you’re a free agent for the first time in your career.
I doubt any of you need background on “Tex”, but here’s the one sentence review:
Teixeira – from Severna Park – is one of the hot off-season commodities in major league baseball right now as the free-agent-signing-period is officially underway.
For the last couple of years, dating all the way back to the middle portion of the 2007 season when Teixeira was shipped from Texas to Atlanta, there have been rumors floating around that the power hitting first baseman wanted to “come home” and fulfill a lifelong dream of playing in front of his family and friends at Oriole Park.
Even when he was in Atlanta – and upon being dealt to the L.A. Angels this past summer – Teixeira always figured out an interesting way to keep Baltimore’s name hot on the boiler plate. His agent, Scott Boras, knows a trump card when he sees one — and he’s always been quick to throw the “B word” around anytime his client’s future is discussed.
Free agency began at 12:01 am this past Friday.
It’s now 8:10 pm on Saturday.
Teixeira’s lifelong dream to play in Baltimore must not be all that important or else he’d be here by now.
I mean, those who know him say that Tex has always talked about playing in Baltimore with the Orioles.
Well? What’s the hold up?
Are the Orioles going to make him an offer? Have they already? Are they interested at a small level, medium level or big level? We don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but we can only *assume* that the O’s interest – on a scale of 1-to-10, is a 10.
Tex has made roughly $35 million in his major league career so far.
His asking price, generally, is expected to be somewhere in the $20 million per-year range (with a 6-year minimum) during this signing bonanza.
So, I’ll ask again.
Why hasn’t he signed in Baltimore already?
Is he “fielding offers”??
Have the O’s jumped in or are they waiting for the market to settle (one of their favorite strategies…)?
I guess I have a hard time figuring out why a guy who has made $35 million in his brief career is waiting around to see if he’s going to make $110 million, $120 million or $130 million over the next half-dozen or so years.
When you sign for $120 million, does it REALLY matter that you might have passed on $125 million? Or even $130 million?
Now, I’ll be the first to admit this might not be all of Teixeira’s doing. There’s a reasonable chance that the Orioles have screwed up in this endeavor as well.
Still taking medication as part of their treatment from contracting Albert-Belle’itis, the O’s are always afraid to actually pay a guy what he might be worth (or more). Who can ever forget the quote thrown out there by Owner Peter Angelos three years ago when he said – in reference to pitcher Roy Oswalt – “I mean, here you have a guy who only plays once every 5 days and he’s commanding a salary of $14 million a year?”
Those pitchers…such thieves, huh?
So, it’s very possible that Scott Boras’ first call on Friday morning was to the 410 area code and when he tossed out the number that would bring Tex home – “Andy, write us a check for $125 million 6 years and we’ll fly to Baltimore today and get the thing done” – the O’s could have keeled over from sticker shock.
They HAVE the money, of course. They’ve been running their own TV network for three years now and despite contentions from the folks at MASN that they’re NOT making gobs of money, industry sources completely refute that notion. A person familiar with MASN’s cable provider revenue stream says they’re generating nearly $150 million annually: 6 million COMCAST homes at an average of roughly $2.00 per-home, per-month, plus another $4-6 million in fees from independent cable providers and advertising sales.
An industry source cited MASN’s yearly expenses at roughly $30 million, based on the broadcast of 300 live games between the O’s and Nats, plus their coverage of local college basketball and various Ravens programming expenses. That figure does not include any start-up costs or repayment of loans from the network’s first year (2006) when they likely borrowed money to put the network on the air.
The O’s and Washington Nationals both recently received a rights fee check for $26 million for the 2008 season.
Of course, lost in all of this is that the Orioles OWN MASN, although the Nationals franchise is now a 15% owner of the network and will eventually complete their ownership stake by owning 33% of the network in the future.
What’s this all mean?
It just means money shouldn’t be the object when it comes to Mark Teixeira. They started the MASN TV network specifically so they COULD overpay for someone if necessary. They know full good and well that penny pinching isn’t going to get a player to sign in Baltimore instead of New York or Boston. And, while they won’t admit how much money they’re making (it’s hard to talk about money when you’re busy printing it…), we can all rest well tonight knowing that every one of us watching cable TV at home this weekend is helping to pay the salaries of each and every member of the O’s organization. We ARE stock holders.
They have lots and lots of money to spend on players and any statement to the contrary is just not true.
If Boras called the O’s and said, “he’s all yours…he wants to come home…give him the $125 million deal and you have a rock star first baseman for the next 6 years”, then the O’s should pony up the money and bring the kid home. If they really want him, that is. (By the way, for the record, if I ran the O’s I’d pass on Teixeira and use the $20-$25 million per-year to sign a starting pitcher or two and a shortstop…FYI).
Generally, though, they don’t do business like that. They fart around for a week or two, nitpick over one extra year (see: Derrek Lee negotiations a few years back), try to play the role of the heavy-hand, and then wind up watching the press conference on TV when the guy they wanted signs in New York, Boston, Atlanta or Los Angeles.
But I’ll go back to my original point.
If Teixeira wants to come home and fulfill a lifelong dream, why isn’t he here already?
And don’t tell me it’s all part of the negotiating process — $22 million a year in Baltimore for six years just isn’t that much different than $25 million a year from New York for seven years. Is it? I mean, what’s he going to do with that extra $25 million…buy another house or four more cars or join three more country clubs or take two more trips to Italy?
When this all shakes out, unless Tex signs in Baltimore, someone is going to be exposed as a fraud.
Is the native son just using the home team for leverage while he gets fitted for pinstripes or picks out a home in a ritzy neighborhood in Anaheim?
Or is the home team trying to get the local kid for a discount price…and at the same time doing the fans a disservice by not spending the money they promised to spend a few years back when they started their own TV network?
Neither scenario would surprise me at all.