But by Thursday night, Red Sox owner John Henry had sent an e-mail to The Associated Press saying they had been outbid for Teixeira and "are not going to be a factor" in signing him to a nine-figure free-agent contract.
"We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him," Henry told AP. "After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."
Henry's reference to the "other offers" leaves open the possibility he is calling the bluff of agent Scott Boras, who has been known to inflate the value of offers and the number of suitors pursuing his client. Boras represented former Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon, who signed with the New York Yankees in 2005 after Boston's brass apparently refused to believe that the offer from their archrivals was real.
"The Boston ownership was kind enough to request and travel to
meet with Mark Teixeira," Boras said in a Thursday evening e-mail to The
Associated Press. "While it was a very positive meeting, Mark was
candid and advised he is in the process of making a decision and is
now attempting to eliminate teams."
Teixeira hit .308 with 33 homers and 121 RBIs last season, including .358 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 54 games with the Angels.
Henry and Boston general manager Theo Epstein traveled to Texas to meet with Teixeira and Boras, an official with another team said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because his team wasn't involved in the talks but had knowledge of them. Henry said earlier in the evening that the Red Sox were "no closer" to signing Teixeira.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino declined comment when reached on his cell phone.
The Los Angeles Angels, who obtained Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves in July, said last week they made an eight-year offer. Several media outlets put Boston's offer at eight years and $184 million. A person in the industry said on the condition of anonymity that figure "was not close."
Teixeira also has been pursued by the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, and met before the winter meetings with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Officials of the Orioles and Angels said Boras had not been in contact with them on Thursday.
Henry had expressed concern about signing any player to a contract of eight years or more.
"We all have limits," he wrote the AP on Wednesday. "Eight years is a very long time in baseball and everywhere else."
Boston's stance puts even more emphasis on Kevin Youkilis' future in a Red Sox uniform. The infielder's agent, Joe Bick, was quoted in The Boston Globe on Friday as saying that "early-stage conversations" about a long-term contract have taken place.
"That's really where it is," Bick said, according to The Globe. "To predict which way it's going to go at this point in time would be pretty tough to do."
Youkilis, who finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2008, can play first or third base. Bick said his client would be fine again with avoiding arbitration and signing a one-year contract. Youkilis, 29, is not eligible to file for free agency until after the 2010 season.
Henry also said the amount the team is willing to spend on a free agent "depends on both" the economy and the player being sought.
"Baseball as a whole has not yet been hit by the financial crisis, but it will," Henry said. "The degree is in question and won't be answered for a while." CNBC reported Thursday that MLB has informed its employees it will undergo a hiring and salary freeze for 2009.
Boras has told teams in recent days that he's "getting close" to resolution in Teixeira's negotiations, and Teixeira was quoted this week as saying he hoped for a conclusion by Christmas.
Teixeira, who turns 29 next April, has been among the most consistent hitters in the majors in recent years, thriving when he was traded to contenders twice in consecutive seasons -- first, in 2007, to the Braves, and then in 2008, to the Angels. Teixeira, who batted .358 in 54 games for the Angels, hit .467 against Boston in the '08 playoffs.
Information from ESPN's Peter Gammons, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Buster Olney and The Associated Press was used in this report.