Mark Teixeira and his .181/.273/.265 slashline visit Camden Yards for their second series this season. Back in early May when the Yankees made their first trip to Baltimore to face the Orioles, Teixeira’s struggles were chalked up as nothing more than a slow start. After all, he’s a career .235/.343/.434 hitter in March/April.
Now though, it’s two bad months and potentially a rough season for the Yankees first baseman who’s making $23 million in his last year of a $180 million contract. Even owner Hal Steinbrenner voiced his displeasure for Teixeira’s performance this season:
“I think when you look at a guy like Mark Teixeira, clearly he’s not playing to his potential with the bat,” said Steinbrenner.
Every time Teixeira comes to Baltimore and I hear the boos when he steps into the batter’s box, I can’t help but think back to the winter of 2008. That winter when the desperate Orioles courted the hometown kid and offered their largest contract in franchise history, a reported $150 million deal. This was a time before we knew that Adam Jones would blossom into an All-Star. It was before Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy and in the pre-Buck Showalter era. A lot has changed since then.
Teixeira took the extra $30 million and signed with the Yankees.
“In a perfect world, the Orioles would’ve won the World Series every year I was alive and I’d be an Oriole right now,” Teixeira said back in 2009. “I have so much love for this city, this organization. But in the business world, in the baseball world, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. When it came down to it, the Yankees were a better fit for me.
He got his ring later that season when the Yankees defeated the Phillies in the World Series, 4-2.
Looking back, I can’t fault Teixeira for wanting an extra $30 million or for signing with a club with a much better track record than the Orioles had in 2008. It still rubs me the wrong way that he grew up idolizing Don Mattingly as a kid growing up in Severna Park, but, hey, whatever man.
At the time though, I was pretty crushed when the Orioles “missed out” on Teixeira. I was angry that he wouldn’t just take the $150 million to play with the hometown team and take on the leadership role the O’s so desperately needed. In hindsight, missing out on Tex was one of the best things that could’ve happened to the Orioles.
Like most big free agent contracts, the Yankees got a few good seasons from Teixeira early on, but have paid for subpar seasons since. Tex was 29 when he inked the eight-year, $180 million deal with New York. 2009 was 5.1 fWAR season valued at $32.7 million on the free agent market. Teixeira made $20.6 million that season. 2011 was the only other season in which his fWAR was valued higher than what he would make on the open market, according to $/WAR.
Teixeira has also had quite the injury history over the course of this contract. He hasn’t played more than 123 games since 2011. He played just 15 in 2013 and 111 last season. Between 2014-2016, Teixeira has slashed .225/.324/.435 over 281 games.
How would a $150 million deal for Teixeira in 2008 have impacted the Orioles eight years later? Would they have been willing to make a deal for Chris Davis in 2011? Would they have had the money to commit to Adam Jones long-term? Would they be the AL’s winningest club since 2012?
I’m glad we don’t have to find out.