By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten yesterday sought to quell speculation regarding the team's reported pursuit of first baseman Mark Teixeira, arguably the most coveted free agent on this winter's market, saying any such talk "is way ahead of us here."
Kasten declined to characterize the Nationals' interest in Teixeira, 28, a Severna Park product who split this past season between the Braves and Angels, hitting a combined .308 with 33 homers and 121 RBI, his fifth straight 30-homer, 100-RBI season.
The Washington Post, quoting team and league sources, reported Friday that the Nationals were preparing an offer for Teixeira that they believed would be competitive with others he is likely to receive. No indication was given as to the timing of such an offer.
However, Kasten yesterday played down the Nationals' chances of landing Teixeira, who is expected to attract interest from some of the game's richest teams, including the Angels, Red Sox and -- possibly -- Yankees, and who could command a contract of $150 million or more for eight or more years. "I don't want people to have unrealistic expectations," Kasten said.
The Nationals, whose 2008 Opening Day payroll of $55 million ranked 26th in baseball, are unlikely to match or exceed the offers of some of Teixeira's suitors, but they could make a compelling pitch based on the franchise's proximity to his home town and its status as the seat of the national pastime in the nation's capital.
The Orioles, though, are also hoping to appeal to Teixeira's sense of home -- he grew up rooting for the team and attended Mount St. Joseph High in Baltimore -- and the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday they have already had discussions with agent Scott Boras regarding Teixeira, though no offer has been made.
The Nationals have targeted a power-hitting first baseman as their biggest position-player need this winter, but the free agent market beyond Teixeira is notably thin, making it just as likely the team could fill its need through a trade.
Nationals Note: The team announced that Tim Foli (manager), Steve McCatty (pitching coach), Darnell Coles (hitting coach) and Mike Quinn (head athletic trainer) will make up the 2009 field staff for Class AAA Syracuse.