The gorilla, needless to say, is the Yankees, who have been quiet on the Teixeira and Manny Ramirez fronts as their initial focus has been on starting pitching. With CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the fold, and a less expensive starter likely on the way, it appears the Bronx Bombers are beginning to think in offensive terms.
Having added Nick Swisher this winter while surrendering Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu to free agency, the Yankees have joined the Teixeira hunt, according to the New York Post and its baseball sources, with Ramirez in the fallback role.
With $243.5 million committed to Sabathia and Burnett, however, the newspaper concedes the Yanks might not stay in the game with Teixeira, who is expected to command at least eight years and $160 million when the ink dries on his contract. Ramirez, at 36, might exceed Teixeira's annual salary, but for only three or four years, if widespread speculation is accurate.
"If they can't get Teixeira, they are right there on Manny," an official with knowledge of the Yankees' plans told George King of the Post.
"[Chairman] Hank [Steinbrenner] wants him, but he isn't alone in the organization," the Post report added, alluding to a source. "They need somebody to protect Alex [Rodriguez]."
At the controls for both Teixeira and Ramirez, agent Scott Boras is known for his ability to play clubs against each other in long, high-stakes games that test everyone's endurance.
The Angels confirmed on Friday night to MLB.com that they extended an eight-year offer to Teixeira at the Winter Meetings, matching the length of a proposal reportedly extended by the Nationals. The Orioles also are hoping to cash in on their geographical desirability and some hometown sentiment in making their bid for Teixeira, a 28-year-old Maryland native.
The Red Sox have no pressing need for Teixeira, but he's their kind of player, and they are aware of what the Yankees have been doing with their pitching staff and might feel the need for another major weapon. Rumors persist that they are in the driver's seat.
Boston is reportedly willing to go higher than $20 million annually, but for a shorter term -- such as five years -- for Teixeira, who has produced at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs for five consecutive seasons while playing for the Rangers, Braves and Angels.
If the Yankees pass on Teixeira -- leaving first to Swisher -- and move on Ramirez, they could shop outfielder Xavier Nady, who made $3.35 million in 2008. Nady, who can play first as well as the corner outfield spots, is eligible for free agency after the 2009 season, and would be an appealing fit for all the clubs who lose out on Teixeira and Ramirez.
The Angels appear content leaving first base in the hands of Kendry Morales, a switch-hitter with power, if they lose out on Teixeira. They would re-focus their attention on landing a run-producer for their outfield. The candidates are plentiful, including Garret Anderson and Juan Rivera, men who have graced the Angels' outfield.
Anderson, who was not offered salary arbitration and whose $11 million option for 2009 was not picked up, is coming off a typically solid season. Always capable with the glove, the Angels' career leader in a wide range of offensive categories had a big second half, batting .335 with 40 RBIs in 60 games. He finished at .293, three points below his career average, with 15 homers and 84 RBIs, second on the club to Vladimir Guerrero.
Rivera showed what he can do when healthy in 2006, providing muscle in support of Guerrero, but he has been slowed the past two seasons by a broken leg. Rivera had a strong second half of 2008, driving in 34 runs in 51 games, and he would be the least expensive of all the viable options.
Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, Abreu and Giambi are among the big names in free agency, and each would intrigue the Angels in varying degrees. Giambi, the lone non-outfielder in the foursome, could spell Morales at first and serve as designated hitter, providing a threat behind Guerrero.
The Angels could take the $20 million or so budgeted for Teixeira, if he heads East, and give it to two bats -- say, Anderson or Rivera and Dunn or Giambi.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.