Giants apply band-aid at first with Indians' Garko

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In what will hopefully be the first of multiple moves to upgrade their
offense, the Giants picked up Ryan Garko from the Indians for
left-hander Scott Barnes.

The 29-year-old Garko was hitting .285/.362/.464 this season and is
a career .283/.355/.450 hitter. On the surface, that makes him a
perfectly adequate stopgap at first base. However, much of his
production has come against southpaws. He had a 960 OPS against them
this year. Versus righties, his OPS this year and for his career is
right around 770. Given that he’s a weak defensive first baseman, he
may actually be a downgrade from Travis Ishikawa against righties.

The Giants need to accept that and continue to sniff around for a
left-handed first baseman or an upgrade elsewhere. Garko definitely has
his uses, particularly since he’s still making close to the minimum
salary, but he’s the replacement for Rich Aurilia, not a player who
figures to excel as a regular.

In Barnes, the Indians are getting a 21-year-old southpaw who was
12-3 with a 2.85 ERA, 82 H and 99/29 K/BB in 98 IP for Single-A San
Jose. The 2008 eighth-round pick has a slightly below average fastball,
but good command and a strong enough changeup to potentially crack the
Cleveland rotation in the second half of next year. He’s probably a
fourth starter at best.

They can also now give Andy Marte one last chance to prove himself.
The former top prospect is still just 25 and he was hitting
.327/.369/.593 for Triple-A Columbus. He’ll be plugged into Garko’s
role as the first baseman when Victor Martinez is catching or DHs. If
Martinez goes in a trade later this week, then Marte could take over as
the starting first baseman.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.