The New York Yankees reeled in another prime free agent, reaching a preliminary agreement with first baseman Mark Teixeira for US$180 million over eight years on Tuesday.
Two people familiar with the negotiations disclosed the agreement, which is subject to a physical. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not final.
Teixeira’s deal raises the Yankees’ offseason spending spree to US$423.5 million. Just last Thursday, the Yankees completed agreements with two pitchers, giving CC Sabathia a US$161 million, seven-year contract and A.J. Burnett an US$82.5 million, five-year deal.
Preparing to move into their pricey new ballpark, the Yankees will hold the four largest contracts in Major League Baseball as they try to win the World Series for the first time since 2000.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez has MLB’s highest deal at US$275 million over 10 years, and shortstop Derek Jeter is second at US$189 million over 10 years.
Teixeira’s agreement came just one day after the Yankees received a US$26.9 million luxury tax bill for this year, when their streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances ended. But with the revenue from their new stadium, where tickets are priced at up to US$2,500 per game, their appetite for free agents wasn’t diminished.
Just 28, Teixeira is the type of hitter the Yankees hope will revive an offense that dropped from a major league-leading 968 runs in 2007 to 789 last season. The switch-hitter batted a combined .308 with 33 homers and 121 RBIs for the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, who acquired him in July.
Teixeira gets a US$5 million signing bonus, US$20 million in each of the first two seasons, and US$22.5 million in each of the final six years. He has a full no-trade clause.
Boston Red Sox executives met with Teixeira and agent Scott Boras last week and were told they were being outbid. Teixeira, who is from Maryland, also had discussed signing with the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. The Angels made an eight-year offer but withdrew it last weekend.
Teixeira will replace a void in the Yankees lineup created by the departures of first baseman Jason Giambi and right fielder Bobby Abreu, who became free agents. It also creates a logjam for New York, which acquired first baseman Nick Swisher last month in a trade with the Chicago White Sox.
Although Swisher also can play in the outfield, the Yankees have a multitude of options there, including Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner and Xavier Nady. Matsui currently is likely to be the designated hitter for much of the time.
Teixeira’s agreement raises the Yankees’ commitment for next year to approximately US$185 million for 16 players on its 40-man roster.
New York also hopes to re-sign left-hander Andy Pettitte for about US$10 million and has three players eligible for arbitration: Nady, Cabrera and reliever Brian Bruney.