The Teixeira Transaction Tree

Mark Teixeira: the one responsible for Mike Trout.

If there was a Hall of Very Good Ballplayers, Mark Teixeira would certainly be in it. “Tex” racked up 50.6 bWAR (and 44.8 fWAR) across his baseball career (31st among all first basemen), hit 409 home runs, and won 5 Gold Gloves and 3 Silver Slugger awards. He also helped the Yankees win their most recent World Series in 2009. He never won an MVP award and didn’t perform well enough in postseason action to warrant any awards, which makes a trip to Cooperstown pretty unlikely.

While Teixeira might be remembered for his clutch home runs during the 2009 postseason run, or his tendency to crush Red Sox pitching, he should really be remembered as the guy that significantly changed the landscape of MLB in the late 2000’s and into the 2010’s without really trying to.


Draft Day


Picture this: it’s June 5, 2001. The MLB Draft is underway. Joe Mauer has already gone first overall to the Twins. Mark Prior was selected second. The Phillies are lining up their fourth overall pick and are trying to decide between the switch-hitting third baseman Mark Teixeira out of Georgia Tech, and pitcher Gavin Floyd, out of Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore. Tex and Floyd were teammates when Tex was a senior and Floyd a freshman.

Teixeira is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, which represents a problem for the Phillies. Boras had made it abundantly clear to the Phillies in the lead-up to the draft that Tex was not interested in playing for the Phillies as long as Scott Rolen was in the lineup. Both players held down the hot corner and Tex was on the fast track to the major leagues as a well-polished college bat, so Rolen represented a roadblock to regular playing time once Tex made it to The Show.

However, the Phillies are still stinging from their decision in 1997 to draft another Boras client, J.D. Drew. They selected Drew with the second overall pick in 1997, but Drew refused to sign with the Phillies and was ultimately drafted 5th overall by the Cardinals in the 1998 draft, so the Phillies are understandably wary of Boras’ proclamation about Teixeira and Scott Rolen.

Okay, stop picturing June 5, 2001!

The Phillies refused to take a risk on another Boras client and instead selected Gavin Floyd. Floyd was thought to be a younger version of Cubs’ ace Kerry Wood, so Philadelphia was probably still pretty happy with their selection. Teixeira went to the Texas Rangers with the very next pick.

Assuming the Phillies had been able to sign Teixeira, they would have had some very interesting choices to make about their future. Scott Rolen had won the Rookie of the Year award in 1997 and had tacked on several strong seasons at third base for the Phillies prior to the 2001 draft. Even in 2001, Rolen was in the midst of a campaign that would earn him MVP votes and yet another Gold Glove. He was set to be in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup for the foreseeable future. There was no chance Rolen would take a backseat to this Teixeira kid.

“Okay, so Tex could play first base and Rolen could play third,” you say. Well, reader, you’re absolutely correct, in theory. However, in that same 2001 draft, the Phillies selected another big league-caliber first baseman in the fifth round, Ryan Howard. Assuming they drafted Teixeira (and Howard a couple of rounds later) in this scenario, the Phillies would have been faced with the best kind of conundrum in the mid-2000s: what to do with three starting-caliber players for two spots.

Well, they could have traded Ryan Howard for a better starting pitcher than Gavin Floyd, who was shipped off to the White Sox, along with Gio Gonzalez, for Freddy García. Floyd’s Phillies career ended with a 7-5 record, a 6.17 FIP, and 108.2 IP.

“What if they had drafted Howard and Teixeira and kept one of them on the bench?” you might ask. That would have been another smart plan. However, the first-round draft pick (especially as high as fourth overall) is more than likely going to get the majority of playing time at a given position because of the substantial resources devoted to that player. So, Howard would more than likely have been sitting on the bench. And, with no DH for Howard to slot into, the Phillies would be trying to find ways to take one of Rolen or Teixeira out of the lineup to get Howard some playing time. He would have been too good not to trade if the Phillies had both of them ready to play in the majors.

But, because the Phillies wanted to avoid getting burned by Scott Boras once again, the Phillies ended up with a dud of a starting pitcher in Gavin Floyd, instead of a third franchise cornerstone for their late 2000’s championship window. Knowing the Phillies’ trade luck, Howard’s deal probably would have been a stinker, too.




Tex, true to his pre-draft evaluation, quickly made his way through the minor leagues. Upon arriving, Teixeira produced a very respectable season, hitting 26 home runs, racking up an .811 OPS (101 OPS+), and finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.

It was more of the same from 2004 to 2007. He rarely missed a game, playing all 162 games in both 2005 and 2006. He became 1 of just 5 players at the time to hit 100 HRs in his first 3 seasons in the big leagues, as well as 1 of 3 switch hitters to hit 20 home runs in his first 3 seasons. He formed a strong duo with Hank Blalock, as they combined to put up 9.2 bWAR in 2004. After 2004, Blalock and Tex were both just 24 years old, giving GM Jon Daniels a core to start building around.

Tex played so well for the Rangers that when it came time for arbitration in 2006, he was due for a significant salary raise. And Scott Boras — being the savvy super-agent that he is — asked the Rangers to either set Teixeira up with a deal that would take him to free agency or a long-term extension that would set Tex up with Texas (wordplay!) for the rest of his career. Daniels went with the short-term deal, inking Tex to a 2-year deal that covered 2 of his first 3 arbitration-eligible years.

Now, with the Rangers in the basement of the AL West in 2007, after their rebuild didn’t quite go as planned (they wouldn’t win more than 80 games from 2005-2008), Jon Daniels decided to maximize Tex’s value and trade him. Teixeira was under team control for another year after 2007, but would almost certainly be looking to enter free agency when he was eligible. Daniels found a dance partner in Atlanta, who decided to send the Rangers quite the haul for a year-ish of Teixeira.

The final result was:

Texas sends:

1B Mark Teixeira
LHP Ron Mahay

Atlanta sends:

C/1B Jarod Saltalamacchia
SS Elvis Andrus
LHP Matt Harrison
RHP Neftali Feliz
LHP Beau Jones

If a lot of those names heading over to Texas look familiar, it’s because a handful of them became key cogs in the machine that brought Texas to the World Series in 2010 and 2011 (and just outs away from a ring in 2011!). Jon Daniels and Co. did a phenomenal job scouting these guys; Andrus was a relatively unheralded prospect at the time, but would go on to become a franchise icon in the 2010’s. Feliz was dominant during his time with the Rangers, racking up a 2.69 ERA/3.66 FIP, 93 saves, and an All-Star nod and a Rookie of the Year Award across 7 seasons. You may also remember Feliz as the one responsible (and Nelson Cruz, too) for David Freese’s game-tying triple in the 2011 World Series. Matt Harrison had two years with an ERA+ above 100 and even was selected to the All-Star Game once as a Ranger.

For Atlanta, Teixeira did what he had been doing for the Rangers: he mashed. It wasn’t enough for Atlanta to make the playoffs in 2007, but he did what he was acquired to do.

However, it’s worth wondering what the Rangers would have done with Tex at first base had he signed a long-term extension. In both the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Tex produced 3+ WAR. Andrus himself produced 4.2 WAR in 2011, while Feliz racked up a 2.73 ERA across 2010 and 2011. So, it’s probably fair to say that the Rangers would be better off in the long-term without Tex at first base. Even though the Rangers had to play with a platoon of Mitch Moreland and Justin Smoak for much of 2010, the combined value of the players the Rangers acquired was enough to offset Tex’s impact. Without Jon Daniels pulling the trigger on a Teixeira trade, the Rangers don’t make consecutive World Series runs.

Honestly, this article could also be entitled the “Boras Tree.” Most of the decisions made were thanks in large part to Boras, anyways, especially with the ultimatums that he handed to the Phillies in 1997 and 2001 and to Jon Daniels in 2006. Without the two-year deal, the Rangers don’t make a World Series run (nor does Neftali Feliz blow the 2011 World Series), nor does Atlanta end up with Mark Teixeira. However, Teixeira is responsible for his own career decisions, which is why this is ultimately all about him and not Scott Boras.


Another Important Mark Teixeira Trade


“But if Atlanta didn’t make the playoffs, why does it matter if they acquired him?” you may ask.

Because in 2008, Atlanta wasn’t doing so hot in their playoff hunt, either. Tex was going to be a rental piece for a contending team at the trade deadline. And, the Angels came calling… again.

The Angels had made a run at Teixeira at the July deadline in 2007 but ultimately fell short of Atlanta’s offer. Fortunately, this time the Angels were able to get their man, sending over first baseman Casey Kotchman and RHP Stephen Marek. The Angels were already 62-40 at the time and with Teixiera, added another fearsome hitter to pair with future Hall-of-Famer Vladimir Guerrero. It’s likely that GM Tony Reagins and the Angels knew that Tex was going to seriously test the open market in free agency, but they acquired him to make a deep run in the postseason. To his credit, Tex slashed an otherworldly .358/.449/.632 after being acquired by the Angels, so he certainly did his part to help the team.

Unfortunately… the Angels lost to the Red Sox in the ALDS, promptly ending “The Best Team in Baseball’s” chance at a World Series. So, while the trade ultimately didn’t bring Anaheim a championship, it was still a fairly low-cost trade that worked out well for the Angels and pretty “eh” for Atlanta, who got virtually nothing out of Kotchman or Marek. The full benefits of the trade for the Angels will become apparent shortly.

Following the 2008 season, Teixeira became a free agent. He received offers from several teams, including the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Nationals. Ultimately, Tex decided to go with the Yankees, signing a massive 8-year, $180 million deal to be their starting first baseman for the foreseeable future.

Teixeira’s decision to sign with the Yankees, as opposed to the Angels, would become an issue during the 2009 season. The two teams met up in the 2009 ALCS, with a chance to face the defending champion Phillies (ironic!) in the World Series. There are no guarantees that Tex would have played a certain way for the Angels as opposed to how he played on the Yankees, but it is again worth wondering whether that 2009 team, with Tex, Vladimir Guerrero, Kendrys Morales, and Co. would have beat the Yankees in the ALCS and then the Phillies in the World Series a few weeks later.

With Mark Teixeira at first base, the Angels would have had no need to go after Albert Pujols when he reached free agency after the 2011 season. With Tex at first and no Pujols, the Angels would have had money freed up to spend elsewhere, with the added benefit of actually getting solid production out of that first base spot. Teixeira’s 8 years and 19.3 bWAR with the Yankees dwarfs that of Albert’s 10 years and 13 bWAR (and at less annual money, too!) with the Angels. I’m not sure how I would have spent that money as the armchair GM of the Angels, but the Angels’ payroll certainly would have been more flexible with Tex at first base in the early 2010s.

Tex became a middle-of-the-order bat for the Yankees in 2009 and beyond, helping them reach the playoffs and win their 27th World Series ring. He added 19 WAR across his 8 seasons with the Yankees, which isn’t too shabby, either.

Tex’s decision to sign with the Yankees would have effects that reached far beyond a single season; in fact, Tex’s decision would lead to an important change in the Angels’ future (besides a couple more years of losing in the playoffs). You see, with Tex’s decision to sign somewhere besides Anaheim, the Angels were entitled to the Yankees’ first-round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft (25th overall). The Angels had several compensatory picks in the draft, including 24th, 25th, 40th, and 42nd overall; this would end up as their most successful draft class ever (so far!).

The 24th overall pick became Randal Grichuk. The 40th and 42nd picks would become Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs. But, the 25th pick, the one that the Yankees gave up as compensation for 8 years of Mark Teixeira, became some guy named Mike TroutHas anyone ever heard of that guy?

Teixeira’s decision to sign with the Yankees becomes a bit of a paradox for Angels fans, assuming that the Angels weren’t going to pick Trout with that 25th overall pick. If the Angels had signed Mark Teixeira, they probably don’t sign Albert Pujols to collect checks and painfully slog his way towards a new milestone every once in a while, but they would have missed out on Trout with the compensatory pick from the Yankees. If the Angels don’t sign Teixeira, they get Trout but also have to deal with Pujols treating the Angels as a retirement home with some baseball included. Ultimately, I think Angels fans would much rather have Trout and Pujols than Teixeira and no Pujols and no Trout (but maybe a World Series? Or at least a shorter playoff drought?).

According to interviews with Eddie Bane, the Angels’ scouting director at the time, they were set on both Grichuk and Trout, but it seems as though if Bane had forced to pick one, they would have gone with Trout, so don’t fret, Angels fans.




So, to recap: Because Scott Boras refused to let J.D. Drew sign with the Phillies at 2nd overall in 1997, they instead drafted Gavin Floyd, while the Rangers took Teixeira. The Rangers were given the option to make Teixeira a Ranger for life, but instead opted to give him a 2-year deal that would take him to free agency. Atlanta needed to accelerate their own rebuilding process, so they traded Tex to the Angels. The Angels tried to keep Tex around, but he chose to go with the Yankees, thereby giving the Angels the pick that would be used to select Mike Trout. Tex helped the Yankees win the World Series, while Mike Trout would go on to become the best hitter of a generation on a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014.


Photos by Keith Allison/Flickr & Icon Sportswire | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

Adam Sloate

Die-hard Angels fan since birth; misses the good ol' days of Vladdy, Kendrys, and Weaver. Temple University alumnus, UCLA Law student.

One response to “The Teixeira Transaction Tree”

  1. Ted Williams frozen head says:

    Great article

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