Mark Teixiera is trying to break the bank.
The Scott Boras client — or, Boras himself — is seeking an eight-year, $195 million deal. The players seeking Teixiera (Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Orioles, Nationals) are willing to go deep for the heavy-slugging first baseman, with the Nats even thinking about a 10-year, $200M contract. Yes, that’s right, 10 years, $200 million.
Let’s look at Teixiera’s career:
904 G / 203 HR / 676 RBI / .290 AVG / .378 OBP / .541 SLG
He’s 28 years old and will be going into his seventh season in the majors, just about at his peak. Meanwhile, the Phillies’ 29-year-old first baseman, Ryan Howard, has a career line that’s not as wealthy as Teixiera’s, since he’s played one fewer season (and 350+ fewer games). But it’s still worthy:
572 G / 177 HR / 499 RBI / .279 AVG / .380 OBP / .590 SLG
I think we can argue pretty easily that Howard’s career has been more impressive. And with that, we all have to wonder: What will No. 6 look to earn once he becomes a free agent — or, heck, what does he look to earn right now?
Teixiera wants $25M per year in 2009; when Howard becomes a free agent in 2011, it’s not out of the question that he’d want maybe $35M per year. Seriously (and I’m fully aware of the economic disaster we’re experiencing in this country). But if the Phils wanted to sign Howard to a long-term deal today, it would have to be at least six years. And the total price would be at least $150M. In 2010, with another fine campaign under his belt, Howard might want six years and $180M.
The Red Sox, Yankees and Angels are annual dabblers in the high-priced contract sweepstakes. Just this offseason, the Yanks tied up CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett together for $40 million per year. Add in the Cubs, Dodgers and Mets, and you have a six-pack of big-paying franchises that seem to always contend.
And thus, lies the question: Where do the Phillies fit? Are they big spenders or givers? Will they think about handing Howard $25M per year starting now? Or $35 million per year in 2011? Or will they settle to hand Howard $14M this year, and close to $20M in 2010, before bidding him farewell?
Mark Teixiera provides a neat microscope into which the rest of us can look. His current wrangling of the market is predicting a long, arduous winter between the Phillies and Ryan Howard. A winter that will end with an answer to the question: Can the Phillies be big market?