Red Sox out of Teixeira derby

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

After meeting, owner says Boston will not be a factor for free agent

December 19, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,dan.connolly@baltsun.com

It appears the Boston Red Sox are out of the running for Mark Teixeira.

After several outlets earlier reported that club officials were meeting last night with Scott Boras, agent for the free-agent first baseman, Red Sox owner John Henry e-mailed media members and said the team had dropped out of the bidding.

According to the Boston Globe Web site, Henry's e-mail, sent at 10:45 p.m., said: "We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him. After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."

That means the Orioles apparently still have a shot at bringing home Teixeira, who grew up in Severna Park rooting for the team.

The Associated Press, citing an unnamed official with another team, said Henry and general manager Theo Epstein made the trip to talk to Boras.

WCVB-TV in Boston, using unnamed sources, said the Red Sox were offering the Mount St. Joseph alumnus an eight-year deal worth $184 million while meeting last night in Texas.

If true, the contract far surpasses the Orioles' offer, which is believed to be seven years and between $140 million and $150 million.

Contacted early last evening, Orioles president Andy MacPhail apparently was unaware of the TV report. He would not comment on any speculative offers.

Before last night, the Orioles were one of five teams left in the Teixeira sweepstakes. The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels had reportedly offered eight-year deals worth at least $160 million. The New York Yankees had interest, but reportedly had not made an official offer. They have already made two big signings this offseason: pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, a Monkton resident.

The Orioles have had their eyes on Teixeira since he was drafted fifth overall out of Georgia Tech by the Texas Rangers in 2001. The Orioles held the seventh overall pick that year.

Teixeira, who graduated from Mount St. Joseph in 1998, is a Gold Glove fielder and has hit .290 with 203 home runs in six seasons with the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves and Angels. He batted .308 with 33 homers and 121 RBIs in 2008.

O's, Ponson settle

The Orioles and former pitcher Sidney Ponson have agreed to a settlement in their three-year dispute over $11.2 million that the club refused to pay the right-hander after he was cut in 2005 for off-the-field transgressions.

The club and Ponson were scheduled for a three-day arbitration hearing this week in Baltimore, but the sides agreed to settle before the hearing began, according to a source with information on the case.

No specifics were released and a confidentiality agreement was signed, according to the source, who called the final value "mutually agreeable."

Neither the Orioles nor Ponson's side would comment. In addition, no official announcement was made by Major League Baseball or its players union.

It puts an end to one of the more embarrassing sagas in club history.

Ponson signed a three-year deal worth $22.5 million in January 2004 - a contract, like all those in Major League Baseball, that is guaranteed under the sport's collective bargaining agreement.

However, the Orioles unilaterally voided the deal in September 2005 with more than one year to go after Ponson was arrested for the third time in nine months.

Ponson spent 11 days in jail in his native Aruba after allegedly punching a judge during a Christmas Day 2004 fight on the beach. Less than a month later, he was arrested on a drunken-driving charge in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Ponson was again arrested on a drunken-driving charge Aug. 25, 2005, in Baltimore.

He was released by the club, which invoked the "personal conduct" clause in standard contracts to void the deal. The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance on behalf of Ponson, and the matter remained stalled until this week.

Orioles general counsel H. Russell Smouse was expected to represent the team, while union general counsel Michael Weiner was to have handled the case for Ponson.

The arbitrator, Shyam Das, would have been charged to rule in favor of either the Orioles or Ponson, with no middle-ground compromise.

It would have been a decision followed closely by the union and management, potentially redefining baseball's meaning of the guaranteed contract. Similar disputes also have been settled without an arbitrator's decision. in the past.

Setback in Sarasota

The Sarasota County, Fla., commissioners voted Wednesday not to increase the tourism tax, significantly decreasing the likelihood the county will build a new spring training stadium to entice the Orioles.

The county has agreed to allocate $22 million to renovate Ed Smith Stadium instead of the $33 million earmarked for a new ballpark and facility, which the Orioles covet. The county is expected to present a new proposal to the Orioles soon, a county spokesperson said.

The Cincinnati Reds, who play their spring games at Ed Smith Stadium, are moving to Arizona in 2010. The Orioles have made their spring home in Fort Lauderdale since 1996, but they are looking for an upgraded facility that can hold both their minor and major league complexes. The Orioles' minor league camp is based in Sarasota.

The Orioles also have had interest in Vero Beach, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers until 2008, but the Indian River County commissioners voted earlier this week to rescind their proposal and not negotiate with the Orioles for 30 days.

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