Just as quickly as the Red Sox appeared on the verge of a blockbuster deal for Mark Teixeira, owner John Henry, president Larry Lucchino and general manager Theo Epstein boarded a plane in Dallas and returned home with no deal in hand.
In fact, all they seem to have is the complete opposite, an indication from Teixeira and Boras that an agreement will never be reached.
"We are not going to be a factor," said Henry in an e-mail Thursday night.
If we take that statement at its face value, then Boston has been outbid for Teixeira. That's certainly a possibility, even considering the Red Sox's rumored eight-year, $184 million offer to the first baseman. He's a special player. The Yankees and Angels have the resources to best the Sox. The Nationals seem so wildly intent on landing Teixeira that they too could have topped Boston as well.
But this could all be a negotiating ploy on the part of Henry and the Red Sox.
Scott Boras isn't above negotiating ploys of his own. He's made his name by getting top dollar for numerous players over the year, a reputation he cemented by getting teams to bid against themselves, often inventing mystery suitors for his clients to accomplish that goal.
Take another look at the missive Henry sent to reporters last night, this time with nothing redacted:
"We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him," Henry said. "After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."
Read another way, in another tone and context, Henry's e-mail could simply be seen as a way of publicly calling Boras' bluff.
For starters, it's interesting that Henry begins by complimenting Teixeira in a formal fashion. He doesn't call him "Mark," opting instead for "Mr. Teixeira." He's extremely respectful -- careful not to burn any bridges -- and perhaps sending a signal to him that this is nothing personal.
There are two interesting word choices in the rest of the statement. "Offers." The Red Sox's rumored bid is the highest that has been leaked to the media. Now there are multiple "offers" on the table in excess of the $170-$184 million range? Considering the Yankees have publicly said they have not extended Teixeira an offer, that means Boras told Boston officials two other teams have come in over the top of its bid. That's awfully suspect considering there are only three other teams in on the first baseman.
The second key word is "seems." That's a word you use to convey uncertainty. It leaves the door open for other potential outcomes, perhaps even the complete opposite one.
Sure, Henry could be softening the blow for Red Sox Nation after weeks of rising hope that culminated in Thursday's flight and face-to-face meeting with Teixeira and Boras. He could also be playing hardball -- challenging Boras to produce the mystery team(s) that "seem" to have outbid Boston.
If I had to wager, I'd put money on the latter. Either way, this is a high-stakes game the Red Sox and Boras are playing, and there's no clear resolution in sight.
Apparent Deal for Mark Teixeira Fizzles; What Happened Between Red Sox, Scott Boras? originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Fri, 19 Dec 2008 11:45:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.