The shopping days to Christmas are dwindling. Does that mean the countdown is also on for the offseason's most anticipated deal, the one waiting for Mark Teixeira?

According to an ESPN report, the recruiting by five suitors of Teixeira is "nearing a conclusion."

Karl Ravech, the source of the audio report, cited "someone very familiar with the negotiations."

Teixeira is known to have eight-year offers, of varying financial value, from the Angels, Red Sox, Orioles and Nationals. Ravech includes among the interested teams the Yankees, who are not believed to have yet made an offer, and indicates that the Orioles have a strong attraction for Teixeira, who is originally from Annapolis, Md.

Teixeira, the 28-year-old switch-hitting, smooth-fielding first baseman who is the plum among position players on the free-agent market, indicated a month ago that he wanted his future settled by Christmas.

"I want to know where I'll be by Christmas," he told ESPN on Nov. 19 while patrolling the sidelines during a football game at Georgia Tech -- his alma mater.

However, when asked about that timetable during last week's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, agent Scott Boras said, "I had not heard that. I don't watch that show."

The Angels, with whom Teixeira starred during the final two months of the regular season and the 2008 American League Division Series loss to the Red Sox, and the Nats are believed to have made offers in the same $160 million range. The Orioles, who as mentioned hold hometown appeal, are probably a little south of that figure.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox have been reported as willing to go as high as $200 million for the man who has been their Most Wanted since the market opened.

Hot Stove

Having already invested $243.5 million in a pair of free-agent pitchers, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, would not preclude the Yankees from making a serious charge at Teixeira -- and the Bombers do have a vacancy at his position.

However, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman still prioritizes completing the overhaul of the starting rotation. And would a team balking at pulling the trigger on a deal for Mike Cameron because the Brewers won't cover enough of the outfielder's $10 million contract really be prepared to take on Teixeira's eventual salary?

There is a belief within the game that New York is feigning interest in Teixeira simply to drive up the price for Boston -- which, aside from its prior interest, now also needs the slugger to counter its rivals' hoarding of pitchers.