Angels pull out of Teixeira chase

Angels pull out of Teixeira chase

The Mark Teixeira sweepstakes are now exclusively an East Coast derby.

The Angels, withdrawing their eight-year offer believed to be in the $160 million neighborhood, confirmed on Sunday afternoon that they are no longer in the hunt for the free-agent first baseman who graced their lineup for 58 games last season.

This leaves the Red Sox, Nationals and Orioles as teams known to have submitted proposals, believed to range from $160 million to $184 million according to various reports. The level of interest by the Yankees has not yet been firmly established, but it could heighten quickly if they see Boston as the front-runner for the 28-year-old switch-hitter, as most insiders do.

"We'll have no further comment today," Angels spokesman Tim Mead said in confirming a report that originated on FOXSports.com by Ken Rosenthal.

As recently as Thursday night, when the Red Sox seemed on the verge of withdrawing from the bidding after a meeting with Teixeira and agent Scott Boras, the Angels were thinking they might be very much in the game.

But something clearly happened in the past few days to convince them that those persistent rumors were true about Teixeira preferring an East Coast lifestyle. According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Angels decided they didn't want to be used to drive up the bidding if Teixeira wasn't serious about returning to Anaheim.

The prevailing view for weeks has been that Teixeira, a Maryland native who attended high school in Baltimore and college at Georgia Tech, wanted to spend the next phase of his career on the East Coast.

Teixeira broke in with the Rangers in 2003 and spent 4 1/2 seasons with Texas before he was shipped to Atlanta in the middle of the 2007 season after rejecting an eight-year, $140 million extension offer by the Rangers.

The Braves resisted dealing Teixeira last winter, hoping he'd find a permanent home in Atlanta, but when they saw that wasn't going to happen, they sent him to the Angels on July 29 in exchange for first baseman Casey Kotchman and Minor League pitcher Steve Marek.

Hot Stove

The Angels acknowledged an element of risk involved in the deal. Kotchman might have been the MVP of a team that was leading the Majors with a .623 winning percentage at the time of the swap. It was generally well received in the Angels' clubhouse, but a few players privately questioned the wisdom of parting with Kotchman, 25, and just coming into his own, for what might be three months of Teixeira.

They were three impressive months -- Teixeira batted .358 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 54 regular-season games -- but now the Angels are left with a pair of Draft picks as compensation when the Type A free agent signs with another club.

Tony Reagins, the club's general manager, said on Thursday that, while Teixeira has been their primary focus all winter, they'll move forward in earnest with efforts to beef up the offense and perhaps seek a fifth starter and closer.

"We've always had several different options in place," Reagins said. "As I said at the Winter Meetings, we've got Plan A, B, C, D ... even E if necessary. So you always have to plan for that."

What those plans are has not been revealed, but it appears doubtful that Manny Ramirez is Plan B -- or even Plan E.

Reagins has described the chances of signing Ramirez, the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer, as "slim" and "very doubtful." The Dodgers withdrew a two-year, $45 million offer they presented to Ramirez, who lifted them into the postseason with his spectacular second half.

There are multiple reports that the Yankees are poised to make a run at Ramirez.

One of the game's premier clutch hitters, Ramirez clubbed the Angels into submission in the 2004 and '07 postseasons, hitting three homers and driving in 11 runs in six American League Division Series games -- all won by Boston. The Angels scored 16 runs total in those six games.

Angels owner Arte Moreno offered a public expression of admiration for Ramirez recently in a radio interview, and manager Mike Sicoscia has said he'd have no problem with the independent-thinking left fielder joining his club.

The Angels' outfield is one area where the club appears set after signing Juan Rivera to a three-year contract. They have Rivera, Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero, left to right, with Gary Matthews Jr. and Reggie Willits in support.

But Ramirez, who has drawn lukewarm interest thus far on the market, still could make sense as a left fielder and designated hitter if the Angels choose to jump back into more negotiations with Boras.

A more likely free-agent target appears to be Adam Dunn, who could fit between Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter in the lineup as the regular DH and part-time left fielder and first baseman. Dunn, with the power to make any park look small, has averaged 41 homers and 100 RBIs the past five seasons.

Pat Burrell is another big bat in free agency, and two White Sox veterans -- Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye -- have been mentioned as possible trade targets along with the Reds' Joey Votto.

Management has expressed that Kendry Morales, a switch-hitter with power, is ready to blossom at first base on the Major League level after a series of cameos the past three seasons. Morales is expected to get the job unless a deal is made.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.