While it remains to the be seen if Teixeira will swing the balance of power in the AL East to the Yankees after they had failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years last season—remember, too, that the Rays won the division—the team that could be hurt most by the signing is the Nationals, who had the worst record in the major leagues in 2008. Fresh off of a 59-102 finish, they had reportedly offered Teixeira $185 million over eight years, and were willing to increase the bid to $200 million if he had given them the chance.And Buster Olney, who just a couple days ago listed the Nationals as a "winner" in the Teixeira sweepstakes (not THE winner, but A winner), mentions the Nationals as a possible destination for Manny Ramirez:
Instead of gaining some much-needed credibility in the Beltway by signing the local kid who had grown up in Severna Park, Maryland, the Nationals wound up being the runners-up, despite having outbid the Yankees. "It's disappointing, but not entirely unexpected when you're going up against the Yankees and the Red Sox," Nationals president Stan Kasten told Tom Boswell of the Washington Post. "I'm glad we pursued it, because Teixeira was unique in terms of what this franchise needs."
It is generally assumed that the money the Nationals had earmarked for Teixeira will go back into the bank, and that general manager Jim Bowden will return to trolling for second-tier players on the free-agent market. However, Kasten insists that the Nationals are serious about trying to improve. "We're determined to do more and be better in '09," he said. "We've already been looking at every option every day, not just Teixeira. His signing may start other moves in the industry. Now we know what the Yankees can pay. Now let's see what everybody else can pay."
The Nationals apparently have money to spend, and in theory, if they were to sign Ramirez, it could be an interesting play. He would be a lure for fans and would give a reason for folks to tune in to watch the Nationals, something that very few people did last season. But here's the quandary: For that gambit to pay off, Ramirez would have to play hard for the duration of his contract.
Would you be willing to bet $100 million on that?