Interest In Teixeira Is Interesting

Make no mistake about it, Mark Teixeira is a dominating player. The problem is that the Nationals will have a tough time fitting him into the lineup thanks to money that's wasted on other first basemen.

Mark Teixeira is not only a good player, he's a consistently good player. Consistency is something sorely lacking in many players and is something that truly warrants the big bucks that many free agents today can command. No, Teixeira is not a guy who came out of nowhere to put up good stats in his free agent year and is likely to go back into mediocrity once the ink dries on his big, new contract.

Since hitting "just" 26 home runs in his rookie season, Teixeira has hit 38, 43, 33, 30 and 33 in the following years. He hit a very mediocre .259 in his rookie season, but has followed that up with averages of .281, .301, .282, .306 and .308 since. And in his five seasons since that rookie year, he's driven in 592 runs and has scored an even 500 runs. That's good and it's consistently good.

Still, where the problem comes in for the Washington Nationals is in the fact that they have $10.5 million invested in first basemen for 2009 and a club option - which could possibly vest - on Dmitri Young for 2010 that would pay him $6 million. Of course, if the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, then Nick Johnson will be hurt by the time the trading deadline rolls around and Dmitri Young will be out of shape and unable to get the 500 plate appearances that he would need for his option to vest.

Could it be that the Nationals are looking ahead? Considering that the money wasted, uh spent, on Johnson and Young is already gone and they might as well just write it off, could they be cutting their losses and looking for a first baseman who will produce.

Yes.

The fact is that the Nationals are going to have to pay Johnson and Young, but to improve their anemic offense, they need to make a splash. Teixeira, who is also a switch-hitter, would fit very nicely into the middle of their lineup. He would be the constant home run threat that the Nationals have needed in their lineup and if his past is a predictor of his future, he'll be able to suit up more often than not. Certainly more often than Johnson and Young.

It's actually a bold move by the Nationals to have an interest in Teixeira and to be pursuing him at all. It's the kind of move that they'll need to make if they want to improve their ball club over the 2008 version which crossed the century mark in losses and put up the worst record in baseball.

Financially, it's a long shot that the Nationals will want to go to the level that other clubs like the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels will go. Still, don't put it past the Nationals to dig deep into the Lerner's fortune and come up with the cash. Plus, the Nationals are close to Teixeira's home in Maryland, leaving them and the Orioles in somewhat of an enviable geographic position with Teixeira, who is said to be open to playing for either club.

The fact that the Nationals have the first overall pick in the draft also helps the situation a little, because rather than losing that pick for signing Teixeira, they would forfeit their second round pick. MLB rules state that the first round compensation doesn't apply to teams that hold one of the first 15 picks in the draft. Those teams get to substitute a second round pick as compensation, lessening the blow to the Nats future. Baltimore would also enjoy the lessened compensation package since they have the fifth overall pick. Boston and the Angels would both lose their first round pick (Boston #27, L.A. #30) if they were to sign Teixeira or any other Type A free agent.

With the upgrade that Scott Olsen gives the Nationals in the pitching rotation, Mark Teixeira would give them a needed boost on the offensive side of the ledger.

What to do with Johnson and Young. If you can find anyone to take either of them, let them have them. Eat the contract and get the best player you can in exchange for them if you have to, but cut your losses and dump both of them. Perhaps one of them will look good enough in Spring Training to stick with the club and come off the bench and hopefully do it with enough success that other teams will increase their offers for them. But if that does happen, the Nationals can't wait too long to pull the trigger, because with their past histories, Johnson and Young have short in-season shelf lives.



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