The Washington Times - December 11, 2008, 10:39AM

The Washington Nationals have made an offer to free agent superstar Mark Teixeria, somewhere between $150 and $160 million, according to reports. That’s a lot of bars the Lerners could open at Nationals Park.

You will hear, of course, that their top dollar wooing of Teixeira is all part of the grand plan, something not particularly out of character for their long-term goals. Baloney. Their push for Teixiera is fueled by the embarrassing season-ending criticism the Nationals received, their status as an industry joke and the lackluster attendance at Nationals Park in their inaugural season. Let’s not forget they supposedly have an up-and-coming first base star in the system in Chris Marrero.

SEE RELATED:


Not that any of this is a bad thing. The Lerners and Stan Kasten have done the right thing. If there is one guy, and one guy only, worth going all-in at the table on, it is Teixeira — a talented, intelligent slugger in the prime of his career. He is a cornerstone player, one to build a franchise around. No one else on the free agent market has that kind of credibility, and therefore is worth making the highest paid player on your team, which should come with a certain leadership status within the clubhouse.

The Nationals will likely have to up their offer to Teixeira if they want any chance to land him. Again, the Red Sox are the favorite, the Angels may be desperate to keep him, and the Orioles, who have also made Teixeria an offer, really can’t afford the public relation nightmare of having the Severna Park, Md., hometown boy playing for the Nationals just down the road.

But you have to give the Nationals ownership credit for putting their money on the line. It is a much-needed move, even if they don’t wind up with Teixeira. For those who might be off put by spending $20 million a year on one player, consider that among this collection of wasted roster space — Dmitri Young, Austin Kearns, Paul LoDuca, Wily Mo Pena, Rob Mackowiak and Johnny Estrada — the Nationals spent a total of about $20 million this year.

Radio

I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM on Friday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 15, from 5 to 7 p.m.

To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com