Yankees' signing of Mark Teixeira means a bigger challenge for Tampa Bay Rays

Life in the American League East got even more treacherous for the Rays on Tuesday as the Yankees added Mark Teixeira, the top free-agent hitter, to a mega-millon-dollar makeover.

The Yankees outbid the Red Sox to land Teixeira for a reported $180-million over eight years. After their signings of frontline starters CC Sabathia ($161-million over seven years) and A.J. Burnett ($82.5-million over five), they've spent more than $423-million in the past month.

And while they claim their overall payroll will be reduced from last season and end up under $200-million, it has become obvious the Yankees, flush with revenues from their new stadium, will spend whatever it takes. And the Red Sox, while whining now, are likely to come up with a counter move.

That doesn't bode well for the Rays, who, even if they land a big hitter and raise their payroll 25 percent, likely won't exceed the mid $50-million mark.

"We plan for and expect the Yankees and Red Sox to have the highest payrolls in the game. Their player expenditures are four to six times ours," Rays president Matt Silverman said Tuesday night.

"This puts into perspective what we were able to accomplish in 2008 and it highlights our challenge in 2009 and beyond."

Or, as Brewers owner Mark Attanasio told Bloomberg News: "At the rate the Yankees are going, I'm not sure anyone can compete with them. Frankly, the sport might need a salary cap."

The Yankees will have the four highest-paid players in the game next season in Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Sabathia and Teixeira, all averaging close to or above $20-million a season, and it's enough for even the Red Sox — who reportedly offered Teixeira $168-million over eight years — to complain.

"From the moment we arrived in Boston in late 2001, we saw it as a monumental challenge," owner John Henry e-mailed the Associated Press. "We sought to reduce the financial gap and succeeded to a degree. Now with a new stadium filled with revenue opportunities, they have leaped away from us again. So we have to be even more careful in deploying our resources."

Teixeira, 28, a switch-hitter, batted .308 with a .410 on-base percentage and a .552 slugging percentage in 157 games for the Braves and Angels.

Also, add LHP Will Ohman to the relievers the Rays have expressed interest in. Ohman, 31, was 4-1, 3.68 in 83 games for the Braves last season and held lefties to .200 average. The Rays are one of six teams to reach out to Ohman, who was with the Cubs.

CLEMENS SAGA: Brian McNamee, Roger Clemens' former personal trainer, filed paperwork preserving the right to sue the seven-time Cy Young Award winner for defamation.

Information from ESPN and the Associated Press was used in this report.

Yankees' signing of Mark Teixeira means a bigger challenge for Tampa Bay Rays 12/24/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 4:53pm]

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