Paul Hoynes of the Plain-Dealer has a story I’ve never heard before: the Indians drafted Tim Lincecum in the 42nd round of the 2005 draft. Ok, I knew that part. He demanded $1 million to sign, which is really high. The Indians offered $700,000, he said no, and went back to college and the rest is history. I knew that part too. The part I didn’t know: Major League Baseball got all kinds of mad at the Indians for even offering the $700,000 because that was above the slot recommendation for the 42nd round.
Lincecum was a well thought-of prospect, but he was coming off a bad sophomore year. The Indians, and a lot of other teams, realized that he’d be pretty good, but were trying to make a value play: get the guy when he’s at his lowest, maybe even when he’s worrying if he had the stuff to make it. Maybe he jumps at the $700K! It’s definitely worth a shot, and if it had worked, baseball as a whole would have saved a over a million bucks on what they ended up paying Lincecum when he eventually did sign ($2.025 million with the Giants a year later). Heck, even if they had met Lincecum’s demand they would have saved over a million.
But rather than applaud the effort to buy low, baseball got all pissy at Cleveland in an effort to maintain their misguided and counterproductive slotting system. Just foolish.
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.